Jerome Charyn’s fiftieth book may be his best. This funny, inventive novel is a first-person account of Abraham Lincoln’s life in full, delivering Honest Abe’s wit, charm, and moral compass straight from the horse’s mouth.
These are from a recent personal project I did in collaboration with illustrator Eli Neugeboren, drip-drawing women with nail polish. Love how these came out!
Eli’s dad, novelist Jay Neugeboren is a close friend of Isaac Sidel author Jerome Charyn.
Jerome Charyn+François Boucq, New York-Du Ventre de La Bête,1994
NEW REVIEW OF THE BLUE - Blue Eyes, Book #1 in the Isaac Sidel crimefast
Detective Manfred Coen is a product of the streets. Raised in the ‘40’s in New York City in the Bronx, he grows up with Jewish gangsters, con men, policemen and politicians. Most guys gravitated either to the police or the gangs, and Coen ends up in the police. He is the protege of Captain Issac Sidel and is disliked by the rank and file both for his mentor and for his blond hair, blue-eyed Hollywood handsome good looks.
But times change. Sidel is now out of the force, disgraced in a bribery scandal. Coen floats from precinct to precinct, never finding a home but still the most effective cop the force has on the streets. His world is full of Chinese Hispanic gunman, a clubfooted confidential informer, a gangster’s son who is a man with the mind of a child, a rich girl who ends up as a porn star and stripper, an ex-wife who married a dentist the second time around, a ping-pong club owner. All have roots in Coen’s past and he moves among them, taking what he needs from each to solve the case while protecting them all the best he can.
There are hints of a white slavery ring operating out of New York and sending girls to Mexico to become brides. There are currents and cross-currents of shakeups and realignments in the gang structure that has held true for decades. Coen seems to be the one who can solve the cases; but is he also being manipulated behind the scenes?
Jerome Charyn is an important figure in American literature. Two of his thirty books have been New York Times Notable Books. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.” Blue Eyes was released in 1974 and is a gritty representation of the world Charyn grew up in. The language can be jarring with street talk and name-calling, but the sense of place is done superbly. There are picturesque characters, loyalties and betrayals that stretch across decades, plots and counterplots. This book is recommended for mystery readers and for those interested in reading about the streets of New York City in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.
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