On January 7, 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters, a barnstorming basketball team, made their debut in Hinckley, Illinois, before an audience of 300. They were the vision of Abe Saperstein, a Jewish man who managed a touring team of African-American round-ballers. Now, 70 years later, the Globetrotters are known around the world and have played an intriguing role in the history of race in America. Charley Rosen's novel The House of Moses All-Stars
is an intriguing spin on the Globetrotters' story. Set amid the Depression at home and the rise of Hitler in Germany, Rosen tells a story of Jewish hoopsters dribbling through middle America. For the team, the games are more a means of making a buck in hard times than breaking down barriers. But as they tour the country in a hearse with the Star of David emblazoned on the side, they uncover the realities of bigotry and racism that even American sport cannot suppress.
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From Publishers Weekly
With a premise that sounds like an urban legend, college basketball coach Rosen launches his seventh book on basketball (after the novel The Cockroach Basketball League), taking readers on a wild road trip in a renovated hearse with "seven jumbo Jews." In the midst of the Depression, Aaron Steiner joins a Jewish professional basketball team, the House of Moses All-Stars, on a cross-country tour from New York to California. In addition to Aaron, who joined the team after losing his baby, his wife and his dreams of basketball success, the players in the hearse include a Communist, a Zionist, a bank robber and a redheaded Irishman posing as a Jew. All are running from problems at home and hope to be "an example or something." But the boys get lost before they leave N.Y.C.?and, unfortunately, so does the reader. Set against the hardship and fear of the times, the novel seems to hope to explore what it means to be an outsider in America. Yet, while Rosen is long on road-trip atmosphere (bored waitresses, lukewarm bowls of oatmeal and dank locker rooms), he is short on character development and plot. A string of racial epithets and stereotypes, for example, is what constitutes an exploration of racism here. The narrative is littered with sophomoric sex jokes and lame vulgarities: "Looking back, I can hardly recall anything that I learned in my classroom. Oh yes... from my anatomy class?the handbone connected to the dick bone"?a joke that provides an apt, if unfortunate, metaphor for the spirit of this novel.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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