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Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue: A Novel of Pastry, Guilt, and Music by [Kurlansky, Mark]
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4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Length: 336 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Audible book:
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The bestselling author of 1968, Salt and Cod makes an uneven transition to fiction in his first novel, an erratic snapshot of the East Village's ethnic melting pot set during the late 1980s. The story opens with a bang when a Jewish restaurant owner is murdered in the first chapter, a tragedy that sends protagonist Nathan Seltzer into spasms of anxiety as he wonders if he should cash in, sell his lucrative property (the Meshugaloo Copy Shop) and leave his drug-riddled neighborhood. But Kurlansky ditches that promising subplot to track Nathan's erotic, pastry-obsessed affair with the daughter of a German baker. Nathan's brother Harry also enters the picture as he engineers his own affair with a hefty, African-American prostitute and junkie named Florence. Unfortunately, there isn't much rhyme or reason to the rest of the novel, which consists mostly of scattershot introductions of wacky secondary characters, including a Latin drug dealer who becomes a successful restaurant owner, a therapist who tries to help Nathan conquer his claustrophobia while passionately rooting for the Mets, and a singer named Chow Mein Vega who incorporates Yiddish influences into his lone dance hit. Occasionally the scenes are funky and entertaining, but the lack of a story line eventually wins out over Kurlansky's obvious love of the neighborhood.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This novel covers very little territory geographically, but its human characters stretch from the shtetl to Caribbean isles and beyond. These denizens of New York's Lower East Side come from Germany, Italy, Poland, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Mashed together on very little land, lives collide and combine in a maelstrom of languages, customs, foods, addictions, and violence. The beginnings of neighborhood gentrification foreshadow imminent change. Kurlansky's apt description of all this is meshugaloo, a combination of Yiddish and Spanish words that points to a sort of radical craziness. Amidst all this, Nathan Seltzer tries to fend off Kopy Katz, a predatory chain eager to swallow up his little photocopy shop, which plays a benevolent role in neighborhood life. Meanwhile, Nathan also has his eye on the daughter of the German pastry-shop owner. A mysterious murderer adds a frisson to this melange of foods and funk. Anyone not intimate with both Yiddish and Spanish and the folkways of Manhattan may find some of this story opaque. The author closes with recipes for caponata, bacala, pasteles, and kugelhopf. Based on the popularity of his nonfiction books, including Cod (1997), expect demand. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product details

  • File Size: 1360 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345448189
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (March 29, 2005)
  • Publication Date: March 29, 2005
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FCK1Y8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #475,327 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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