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Sharkey's Kid: A Memoir

Ostransky, Leroy

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ISBN 10: 0688103251 / ISBN 13: 9780688103255
Published by William Morrow & Co, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 1991
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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About this Item

Beautiful, probably unread copy. Signed and inscribed by Leroy. Bookseller Inventory # 002281

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Sharkey's Kid: A Memoir

Publisher: William Morrow & Co, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1991

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed and Inscribed By Author

Edition: First Edition

About this title


Set in the colorful 1920s against the background of his father Sharkey's saloon, Ostransky paints a vivid picture of life in a quasi-religious family stuck between its Orthodox relatives and its flashy, mostly Gentile patrons. A gritty remembrance of Manhattan's Lower East Side during Prohibition.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Jewish nostalgia, Manhattan style. Ostransky (Music/Univ. of Puget Sound) recalls his childhood on New York's Lower East Side, where he lived under the heavy thumb of his illiterate father. During Prohibition, the elder Ostransky was known as Daddy at home, Sharkey at the illegal bar that he managed on Rutgers Street. Daddy had a passion for Victor Red Seal classical records, loved Caruso and gypsy violin, and wanted more than anything that his son grow up to match Heifetz and Menuhin as a Jewish virtuoso. To this end, he forced young Leroy to practice daily in the back room of his bar and take weekly lessons uptown from Maestro Cores. Unfortunately, what Daddy/Sharkey liked was ``Jewish music'' (which he heard in the most unlikely works simply because they might be written in a minor key) and beat the boy to make him sound more passionate. In fact, the musical apogee of Lower East Side Jews was the cantorial style, which requires ``vocal virtuosity equal to anything in Verdi or Puccini,'' and is so dramatic that ``even the unfaithful might suspect that the Lord of the universe pays attention and listens.'' That's what Sharkey wanted to hear when Leroy practiced--but it wasn't the clean, sharp playing that Maestro Cores wanted. Sharkey was a violent man, used to keeping law and order in his bar with his fists, and when at book's end he at last accompanies trembling Leroy to a lesson from the Maestro, who complains about the boy's gypsy style on the scales, Leroy expects his old man to punch out the teacher. Finally, at Prohibition's end, the bar collapsed, and old Sharkey became an assistant on a beer-delivery truck. Old home-feelings all on a dead level with no rising action- -but some elders will welcome this seedcake. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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