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Looking For Przybylski Hardcover – October 15, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Fredericks woebegone outsiders are reminiscent of Elmore Leonard tough-tender guys and dolls, not a bad literary role model. --Kirkus Review

"Ziggy s quest is related without sentiment...it resonates as a rumination on the trials and triumphs of a newly examined life." --Publisher's Weekly

About the Author

K.C. Frederick lives in the Boston area with his wife. Born in Detroit, he's taught at Michigan, Cornell, and the University of Massachusettes at Boston. His novel, Inland, won the L.L. Winship PEN New England Prize for Fiction in 2007.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: The Permanent Press (October 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579622739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579622732
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,483,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ziggy's journey to LA to find the man who may have did him in ends with the heartbreaking realization that "when all is said and done we're all responsible for our own stories." Ziggy's story of a once successful numbers man living in Detroit takes a bus (!) to LA to find out if his story could have ended up differently had it not been for Przybylski. The wonderfully sad descriptions of Detriot coupled with the sprinkling of Polish bits and pieces ("the festivities were just getting started, you could smell all that great food Mrs. Rowinska had made--ham and kielbasa, homemade horseradish, both white and red, pierogi, kaput a and potato salad") made this such a nostalgic read for me and the tales I heard from my family as a kid. All of the what ifs in Ziggy's life (what if Moose Kubek wasnt sick that day?) made you wonder if Ziggy's world could have been different had he stopped looking in the rear view mirror. He seemed to go back and forth from understanding that you make your own luck and you had no say in the matter. Loved this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is tops in its league: the no-checking and no-fighting hockey league for oldsters. Ex-cops. Ex-firemen. You'll either love or hate how the book plays out. You'll say, "This is the Master League" or "This is the fogey league."

As a bona-fide Przybylski from Detroit, I had to give it a critical reading. My dad thoroughly enjoyed it. As for myself, not being a member of The Greatest Generation with its coast-to-coast politeness, I have questions about the detour around "The Race Issue". How can someone write about a Detroit Polack without a mean stink? Especially as the quality of life declines and the things that don't cost money, like a safe neighborhood amongst the working poor, are methodically destroyed in the name of social progress.

Yet Frederick may have more old school codes than politically correct codes governing his work: a gentleman never brings-up a problem that he can't fix. So Frederick has his main character, Ziggy Czarnecki, proceed on the plane of a handy-man. The book maintains a jobber's, one task at a time, consciousness. Death is the only nag that isn't shrugged-off.

Still wanting the book to be tougher, I consider the difficulty of writing about race with moral integrity. Because the liberal vision of moral integrity demands acceptance of "the other", while the conservative vision of moral integrity demands ethnic and cultural self-preservation. Poles tend towards the latter. Gore Vidal said that Poles were unfit for American democracy due to their affinity for a tribal chief. Which, others say, is why Polish-Catholic polities had to be dispersed by bussing in the 1970's. If this logic points to a timely conspiracy orchestrated by declining WASPs and ascendant Jews in the post-Kennedy era?
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Format: Hardcover
Looking for Pryzbylski, like a number of Frederick's novels, centers on a character who is trying to make sense of an event that changed his life. When the numbers game went down in his Polish Detroit neighborhood, so did Ziggy Czarnecki. Years later, acting on an impulse after a shocking and comic incident at a funeral, Ziggy decides to take a trip cross country (on a Greyhound bus) to confront the neighborhood rival Ziggy suspects ratted his numbers game out to the cops. Ziggy needs to know if (and why) Pryzbylski the Undertaker tipped off the cops about the numbers business that had brought him status and wealth.

Like most road trips, this one is about the trip as much as its goal, and Frederick deftly draws the characters Ziggy meets along the way. They're characters, but never caricatures, from the aspiring comic to the pool-shooting cutie to the embezzling Librarian on a quest to visit the grave of every president. In a few strokes, Frederick evokes the journey from the grimy hulk of Detroit through the Midwest, the deserts and the mountains till that moment when you cross the divide and descend to California and the ocean. There in Venice, Ziggy encounters Father Teddy from the old neighborhood, now just Ted, who is working on a new life, and visits with his son and his family to learn a few things he'd rather not about the son's marriage. He also finds Pryzbylski, and in an eerie and comic encounter, gets not what he wants, but maybe what he needs. A cinematic and wryly comic distillation of many of the themes of Fredrick's previous books.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ziggy Czarnecki leaves Detroit, where he has lived a long life, to search for the man, Przybylski, who may have once pulled the plug on his successful criminal career as a numbers guy and rendered him a regretful has-been ever since. On his slow trip across the country, Ziggy meets a succession of other seekers whose lives, surprisingly, seem less purposeful than his own. When he arrives in California, which is as lively and lovely as Detroit is moribund and ugly, he discovers that his search for answers about the past is less compelling than his interest in the problems of the friends and family he encounters. When he finally tracks down the elusive Przybylski, Ziggy's past and present fuse in a surreal conversation that seems like both a benediction and a resurrection. The novel begins with a funeral and ends with an affirmation of life that is both pleasing and believable. The story flows steadily and quickly, the characters are odd and interesting, and Ziggy is someone you enjoy getting to know. I hope Frederick tells us more about him in the future.
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