This novel was a joy to read Perhaps it says something about my personality when I say that I loved this tale of Jewish senior citizens putting on Hamlet and squabbling amongst themselves On the surface, the story flits playfully through the New York City retirement community where it is set, introducing us to dirty old men, crazy old ladies, and the very likable narrator Otto Korner Just as in a high school, the retirement home is divided into little cliques, popularity contests arise, and crushes are diverted into heartbreak While telling us the story of the play, Korner also treats us to flashback episodes from his earlier life, from a love story with a mysterious young Dada artist in Europe to his marriages to two very different wives to his former career as a promising young poet in the German language The novel flows seamlessly between comic and tender scenes, the past and the present It was something different from the kinds of stories that I usually read, and made for an enjoyable departure. In The Emma Lazarus Retirement Home In Uptown Manhattan, The Jewish Inmates Embark On A Chaotic, Bitchy Production OfHamletComedy And Tragedy Combine As Our Hero, Otto Korner, Directs His Quirky, Libidinous Fellow Residents In The Play And Looks Back Over His Adventures In Germany, Zurich, Where He Met Lenin And Inadvertently Invented Dada , Auschwitz And America Had not even heard of this book until it was featured on The Backlisted Podcast and it took and inter library loan to get a copy I m so glad I found it The narrative style took me about 20 pages to get used to, but once that was out of the way, I was hooked It s a book that is genuinely funny AND heart breakingly sad usually a book can only do one of those things well I m going to have to track down by this author. I liked how the characters had to ascertain the meaning of Hamlet I loved all the references to the play Otto seemed like such an innocent character. I recommend this book to anyone who will listen to me It is one of my all time top three Smart, well written, spare, funny and touching, this story is about a group of elderly Jewish people living in a nursing home who put on a production of Hamlet.May 2019 reread again and impressed anew. This book was touted as humorous Those critics were mistaken Although a relatively short novel 250 ish pages it read like a less like a commentary on modern life in a New York retirement home and like a Dostoyevsky tome. The hosts of the podcast Backlisted featured this book in a recent episode Though the book apparently received significant attention when it was published in the early 1990s, I had not heard of the book or of the author I am glad that the podcast brought it to my attention Coincidentally, just before reading this book, I read Fleischman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser Akner My son admired the writing in her pieces for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, and he sent me the book as a Father s Day gift with the suggestion that he and I both read it at the same time The suggestion was an even greater gift than the book The two novels make for interesting comparisons Both are full of great humor, and both deal with genuine pain and complexity beneath the social satire Both have as a major theme the sex lives of Jewish New Yorkers in Fleischman, with middle aged people who are divorced or who never married and whose sex lives are transformed by brazen social media dating apps in Prince, with septuagenarian or older residents of a Jewish senior citizens home in the 1970s Both deal with much larger themes as well and are deeply insightful and moving. I too came to this book via Backlisted podcast, which by the way every serious reader should listen to I did not love the book as much as the presenters did I found the middle to the end section to be on the verge of tedious The end is devastating, and the present day shenanigans of the elderly thespians are hilarious, but the flashback stories of the main character s past are, to use that overwrought word, poignant to the point of lump making in the throat There s a lot of Bernard Malamud in Isler s writing, which Backlisted did not consider and they should have Because this is a comedy, like Malamud s best work, wrapped in a tragedy, inside an enigma, to misquote Churchill This is a must re read for me. As soon as I saw Jewish, New York and retirement home on the cover I was in I expected humour and got it in spades What I didn t expect was the delving into history, the pathos, the slow reveal of the narrator s life and the wonderful command of English that the author shows us on every page It said a lot about memories too tragic to face, loyalty, friendship and camaraderie An absolute joy to read. I read this book because we once lived on West End Avenue I recognize the building on the cover and having grown up in Indiana Ohio, then 13 years in Washington, D.C with a few visits to Manhattan, the upper West Side with Zabar s the bagel store right near my subway stop was like a new country and a delightful one This book really talks the talk of the upper West Side quite fun.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Prince of West End Avenue book, this is one of the most wanted Alan Isler author readers around the world.
- 256 pages
- The Prince of West End Avenue
- Alan Isler
- 03 May 2019 Alan Isler