In Bitter Bronx, one of our most gifted and original novelists depicts a world before and after modern urban renewal destroyed the gritty sanctity of a land made famous by Ruth, Gehrig, and Joltin' Joe.
Bitter Bronx is suffused with the texture and nostalgia of a lost time and place, combining a keen eye for detail with Jerome Charyn's lived experience. These stories are informed by a childhood growing up near that middle-class mecca, the Grand Concourse; falling in love with three voluptuous librarians at a public library in the Lower Depths of the South Bronx; and eating at Mafia-owned restaurants along Arthur Avenue's restaurant row, amid a "e;land of deprivation where fathers trundled home with a monumental sadness on their shoulders."e;
In "e;Lorelei,"e; a lonely hearts grifter returns home and finds his childhood sweetheart still living in the same apartment house on the Concourse; in "e;Archy and Mehitabel"e; a high school romance blossoms around a newspaper comic strip; in "e;Major Leaguer"e; a former New York Yankee confronts both a gang of drug dealers and the wreckage that Robert Moses wrought in his old neighborhood; and in three interconnected stories "e;Silk & Silk,"e; "e;Little Sister,"e; and "e;Marla"e; Marla Silk, a successful Manhattan attorney, discovers her father's past in the Bronx and a mysterious younger sister who was hidden from her, kept in a fancy rest home near the Botanical Garden. In these stories and others, the past and present tumble together in Charyn's singular and distinctly "e;New York prose, street-smart, sly, and full of lurches"e; (John Leonard, New York Times).
Throughout it all looms the "e;master builder"e; Robert Moses, a man who believed he could "e;save"e; the Bronx by building a highway through it, dynamiting whole neighborhoods in the process. Bitter Bronx stands as both a fictional eulogy for the people and places paved over by Moses' expressway and an affirmation of Charyn's "e;brilliant imagination"e; (Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune)."e;