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Welcome to Brighton Beach of the 1930s and early '40s as filtered through Simon Sloan, from youth to would-be artist-as-a-young-man at Brooklyn College to the eve of his induction into the army. Wallace Markfield perfectly captures this Jewish neighborhood--its speech, its people, its unique zaniness.
But like any masterpiece--Joyce's "Dubliners" comes readily to mind--"Teitlebaum's Window "both survives and expands upon its time and place. While remaining rooted in the specifics of its own world, thirty-seven years after first being published it teems with Markfield's inventiveness, hilarity, and singular voice.
peanut thins!" "Peanut crackers," mused Merz, "we're on peanut crackers or peanut thins, yeah yeah, Merz, dark is your world, you should have paid the twenty-five dollars—in those years they charged only twenty-five dollars—that before you stood under the chupeh with her the gangsters should've broken on you—it didn't have to be a leg—a nice little ankle bone . . ." "I got in my house a bigger bathroom"—the babushka swelled with anger—"and what I do, I do on ten watts." "He don't realize that
would play dumb, natural habit made me right away grin and wave. Definitely he saw how I waved but made believe he didn't. So I am planning my revenge for years from now. He'll be a big shot and with a lot of people and I'll go over, I'll say Hello shmuk and I'll shake hands with him. While I'm shaking hands I'll give him an indian burn. We had songs in French today, Mr. Wexler brought in a little victrola. The Marseillaise everybody loved. Mr. Wexler like conducted us. On the marchons
it should only rain for the rain is good on ... the grass.'" He started tittering, soon broke up completely. "Give them—ho-boy!—give them a bar and give them— THE GRASS!" "You'll go out of New York," his mother said to Simon, "you'll see them with their grass." "Grass—grassgrassgrass," barked his father. And in great good humor he fed Simon farmer cheese and sable skin from off his fingers, calling him "Kiddo" and "Little Doughboy" and snapping out tricky questions. He said, "My manager did
tell him Mister Moey I'm putting myself in your hands and what it costs it costs. She again danced us around and she sang in Jewish I Begged My Momma Dear To Get Up From The Grave To Make Me Some Tzimmis. Mom said The first first first train that goes to Fallsburg is the train I take, what I was is in the past and them days are gone forever, I'm putting myself first and first I'll put myself. Mom sang in Jewish Put The Stone By My Head It Shouldn't Lay Heavy On My Feet. Mom said I'll
murderer, you hated his guts from the beginning, but even you didn't wish it!" "Nah, nah Daddy." He pushed Simon off the curb, saying, "Go, ho-boy, go, Tom Mix and his Tony are calling you!" And as Simon started to cross his father came after, crying, "Killer-type, you walk away, you don't kiss a Daddy bye-bye?" Though they held up traffic, though Kushey Kravitz and his older brother, Pinnie, had just then come by and stood looking and laughing, Simon kissed and was kissed. And lingered till