For readers of classic writing, may I offer some selections that will never make the best-read list.
The Adventures of Hershel Finnstein by Shmuel Klemsky. The book is noted for its colorful description of people and places along the Muldow River. Set in a society after the Russian Revolution that had ceased to exist about 20 years before the work was published, these adventures try to be a scathing satire on the proletariat. The phonetically written words to emulate a dialect may leave the reader puzzled.
The Great Katz Boy
by F. Sam Fitzgorel.
The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Katz and his passion and obsession for the beautiful former debutante Delores Buchman. It explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval and excess, creating a portrait of the Roaring ’20s. Flappers abound but reality does not.
by Wilhelm Fleckner.
The tale is set in the Bronx, N.Y. It centers on the nouveau riche Cohen family, who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their family and its reputation. Over the course of the 30 years or so related in the novel, the family falls into financial ruin, loses their religious faith and the respect of the town; many of them die tragically. Following their trials and tribulations is a trial in itself. The reader will sound furious if he permits himself to finish the work.
Kotchke In The Rye
by J.D. Mallinger.
This cookbook shows a basic disregard for ethnic cooking that any true cook would be wise not to put on his/her bookshelf. It seems to be written by an angst-ridden teen who has no knowledge of self, let alone the workings of a kitchen.
by Yankel Meller.
The novel is set during the 1940s. Most of the events in the book are in the form of a diary of an ill-tempered enlistee in the Army. He has complaints about everything from his barracks mates to the lack of variety in the food. It is a decidedly dull attempt to make complaining an art form.
Counting On Crisco
by Alexander Mumas.
What starts out to be a helpful kitchen reference soon develops into a rather dull series of kitchen mishaps that fail to sustain either humor or interest.
Dr. Yankel and Mr. Fried
by Robbie L. Steinson.
In an attempt to portray the life of an immigrant who made good, the author succumbs to the overworked approach of showing a foreigner trod upon by the rest of society. He turns from aiding his fellow man to seeking revenge on those who would refuse his recognition as a contributing member of society. The only horror in this tale is that of the amateurish writing.
Do not seek these in your local library or on the internet. To the best of my knowledge, they have been relegated to the publishers’ trash bins. (One can only hope.)
Sy Manello is an editorial assistant at the JN.