by Jason Makansi
Adler is not only a native New Yorker, he’s a self-proclaimed “proud
product of the New York City public schools,” and “happily lives in New
York City after a 40-year absence from his native soil.” I lived in
NYC, Manhattan specifically, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else: 12
years, from 1974-1987, then commuted in for another ten years. I am a
sucker for most anything written about the city, and what I am often
seeking is fiction that captures the city’s energy, bad or
collection is certainly aptly named. Think of Adler’s four-decade
absence as a canyon he’s trying to traverse. I think he has captured
the echoes of his native soil, but not necessarily its
exception is The Mean
Mrs. Dickstein. Now here’s a character that represents New
York’s finest, and I don’t mean its cops, but its elderly population
that refuses to let the city or its younger inhabitants get the better
of them. The story is a dark, stark power play over space on a park
bench. If control over precious space doesn’t make up the essence of
New York City, I don’t know what does.
one character who exhibits genuine passion, in Better Than Donna Reed,
is not a New Yorker but a lady, a mother, from Iowa visiting her
daughter who is struggling to make it in show business. Here’s what she
says to a co-worker at the local Wal-Mart who has uttered disparaging
words about her daughter’s ambitions (which are her mother’s as well):
“What does a fat ass ignoramus like you know about such things, Daisy?
Your kids are ignorant dropout scumbags with the ambition of petrified
turds and an intelligence that registers lower than a snake’s asshole.”
Let’s just say it gets even better when she gets to the city after
watching her daughter in a bit part in a play so off-Broadway, it’s
like it’s in New Jersey.
these examples are exceptions. While the stories are competently
written, many of them, including The
Seed That Grew, A Dad Forever, and The Obituary Reader
include long passages that read more like essays than stories. Several
of the stories could have been lifted out of New York and set most
anywhere, including A
Dad Forever, Pregnant and Gone. There are
also stories that really could have used the eyes of an expert editor.
In Subway Love Story,
the word “sometime” or “sometimes” is used four times in three
successive short paragraphs. In Gone,
four out of six sentences in two short successive paragraphs begin with
“There was, there were, or there had been.”
New York Echoes has
a gem, though. It’s the twenty-second and last story (before the first
chapter of the author’s coming novel, that is), entitled My Father, the Painter.
It’s hard to describe this story without giving it away. Just imagine a
daughter being abandoned by her artist father more than two decades ago
only to find out she wasn’t.
Even though New York hardly looms as a unique place in this story,
somehow you can’t imagine what happens in this story happening anywhere
else. This collection may not capture the energy that is the essence of
New York City, but this story captures a certain something about the
city that is almost impossible to put into words.
Read one of the stories
from this collection on Amazon
has published six short stories, some poetry, three non-fiction and
professional books, and numerous magazine articles. He is president of
Pearl Street Inc, an electricity industry consulting firm. His latest
book, Lights Out: The Electricity Crisis, the Global Economy, and What
It Means To You, was released in June 2007 (John Wiley & Sons)
Publisher: Warren Adler/Stonehouse Press
collection?: No, fifth.
Adler is a novelist, short story writer and playwright. His
books have been translated into more than 25 languages and two of his
novels, The War of the Roses and Random Hearts, have been made into
Three short stories from his collection The Sunset Gang have
been adapted as a trilogy and shown on Public Television stations. His
stage adaptation of the novel The War of the Roses is currently being
produced in Italy, Berlin, Hamburg, Prague and countries in
Mr. Adler has acquired his complete backlist and converted
entire library to digital publishing formats. He lectures on creative
writing, motion picture adaptation and the future of Electronic Books,
runs his own short story competition, and is the founder of the Jackson
Hole Writer's Conference.
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