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The Black Swan

Jerome Charyn: The Black Swan (USA 2000)

From the Publisher:
From the Publisher:
"It was easy to invent a fable. When the letters did come from school, I'd scratch out a note in my father's hand, talk of fatigue, visits to the brain surgeon, etc. The East Bronx was like the Sahara, where a child and all his records could get lost in some infinite sand dune."

What does an 11 year-old boy do when his classmates call him "Dumbo" and his parents don't seem to know that he exists? His mother, the beautiful Faigele spends her days pushing her 2 year-old son Marvin around in a stroller and barely hears Jerome's clarinet playing. The answer for Jerome Charyn is to go to the local movie house and hide out for a few hours every day. At the movies, he can escape, not be himself for a little while. One day, while watching Samson and Delilah for the seventh time that week, he is suddenly grabbed from his seat, dragged down a flight of stairs and winds up being introduced to a whole new way of life by three "cellar rats," as Jerome likes to call them.

They make him a part of their group and he soon finds himself dressed in a Feuerman & Marx suit collecting money for Farouk, the local gangster. Many of the men remember his mother, The Dark Lady, from her days as dealer of their local poker game.

With his distinctive style, a deep and accurate feeling for time and place, and an uncanny ability to communicate the world as seen through the imagination of an unusual boy, Charyn has created another gem of a memoir, a worthy sequel to The Dark Lady from Belorusse.

Jerome Charyn: The Black Swan. A Memoir of the Bronx. St. Martin's Press; ISBN: 0312208774 (June, 2000), 182 p., $21.95.


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