Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Beautiful Beautiful Bronx

I am currently reading Bronx Accent: A Literary and Pictorial History of the Borough by Lloyd Ultan, Barbara Unger. While reading this, I became interested in other books (novels) that take place in The Bronx. There are quite a few, but these seem very interesting.

The Buddha Book by Abraham Rodriguez Jr.

American Book Award winner Rodriguez revisits the bleak streets of the South Bronx in this novel of guilt and redemption. Jose, who has murdered his ex-girlfriend in a fit of rage, and Dinky, the son of a drug kingpin, are the creators of an underground comic called The Buddha Book. As the chaos around them escalates, this comic becomes the vehicle for a catharsis, which culminates in an apocalyptic reckoning on the streets of the Bronx.

The Kingsbridge Plot by Mann Meyers (Young Adult)

In 1775, young Peter Tonneman returns to New York City from studying medicine in England to find its residents in turmoil-not only because of disagreements with the mother country, but also because someone has been decapitating the local young ladies. As a citizen, the doctor must decide which nation will receive his allegiance; as a coroner, he must assist in the search for the murderer. The plot is enriched by a scheme to assassinate George Washington.

Note: The King's Bridge, erected in 1693 by Frederick Philipse, a local Lord loyal to the British Monarch. The bridge spanned the now-filled-in Spuyten Duyvil Creek, roughly south-parallel with today's 230th Street. The Kingsbridge carried Boston Post Road, connecting southern Westchester County (which became The Bronx) with Marble Hill.

Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctrow

In the Bronx of the 1930s, 15-year-old Billy Bathgate hooks up with a legendary mobster, Dutch Schultz. Schultz becomes an unlikely surrogate parent to the boy, introducing him to the ways of the world and training Billy to follow in his footsteps. After Billy falls for Schulz's latest girlfriend, he begins to question the actions of the mob he was so eager to join. As he seeks to protect the young woman, he gains strength in following his own heart and makes a courageous passage from boyhood to adulthood.

When The Bronx Burned By John J. Finucane

In his novel, When the Bronx Burned, John Finucane, a retired lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department, tells the fascinating story of the burning of the Charlotte Street area of New York’s South Bronx during the late1960s and 70s; an era when arson-for-profit drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. It’s an intriguing story that shows a New York that most people are completely unfamiliar with. The premise allows for a great deal of conflict and action, for the heroes aren't just fighting flames, they are fighting a brutal gang of arsonists, the slumlords that employ them, and the political machine that permits the scheme to take place.

1 comment:

Anne said...

I just discovered Doctorow this year. Love him. Haven't gotten to Billy Bathgate yet, though. The advice I got was, "Just don't see the movie first."