A New York Times–bestselling author’s poignant novel of a boy’s coming of age on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1920s.
When Benny Kramer’s father came to the United States, he was hungry, broke, and ignorant. Handed a banana and told it was “American food,” he scarfed it down, peel and all. By the time he died, he was no richer, but much wiser, and everything he learned he imparted to his son. Growing up on New York’s Lower East Side between the wars, Benny’s life was just as chaotic as his neighborhood. How many young boys have seen a man decapitated by a horse? How many know blacksmiths who got tangled up in a multiple homicide? How many win an elocution contest, only to find out it was rigged by the mob? For Benny, these are everyday events, and he remembers them with the biting wit that made Jerome Weidman one of the most beloved novelists of his day. This ebook features a foreword by Alistair Cooke.
“[Weidman] can write just a little better than anybody else that’s around.” —Ernest Hemingway “This is all much more than noodle soup nostalgia—there’s humor, and stamina, and if middle age has rubbed off here and there, it has also lent a certain wisdom.” —Kirkus Reviews “Utterly winning . . . a total pleasure.” —AudioFile
Jerome Weidman (1913–1998) was an American novelist and playwright. Born in New York’s Lower East Side, he began selling short fiction at the age of seventeen to magazines such as Story,the American Mercury, and the New Yorker; the latter published twenty-three of his short works between 1936 and 1946. Weidman’s first novel, I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1937), made him a national sensation. A story of greed in Manhattan’s infamous garment district, it was as controversial as it was popular. Weidman went on to write more than twenty novels, including Fourth Street East (1970), Last Respects (1971), and What’s in It for Me? (1938), a sequel to his hit debut novel. In 1959, he co-wrote the musical Fiorello!, about New York’s most famous mayor, which won a Pulitzer Prize and a New York Drama Critics Circle award. Weidman continued publishing fiction until late in his life, and died in New York.