Since the fame attending the publication and film of Warren Adler's The War of the Roses, Adler has been chronicling the American experience in novels and screenplays. Now, with Funny Boys, Adler takes on the New York of his childhood in a new novel with bestseller written all over it--a dark comedy of errors about success, the mob, and true love.
Mickey Fine is a young man with a promising future in comedy. Attracted to the applause of the crowd at a lavish hotel casino in the Catskills, he gets a job as a tumler--part entertainer, part host, all funny boy. But he is natve to the more sinister side of his audience. They are mobsters and power players of New York's scandalous underbelly--men with whom Mickey had run-ins during his childhood.
When Mutzie Feder, a Jean Harlow-esque gangster girlfriend, gets into the act with dreams of escaping her brutal reality, sparks fly between her and Mickey. But as their circumstances start to catch up with them--and the body count starts mounting from the rough crowd they're running with--Mickey and Mutzie start angling for a way out. That, of course, isn't as easy as it sounds.
With film rights already optioned to a major producer, Funny Boys is a timeless love story and a sweeping American tale told as only Warren Adler could tell it. Smart, wry, and beautifully written, it's as unforgettable and authentic as anything Damon Runyon or Ring Lardner ever wrote, from a writer with a keen eye, an acute ear, and a very big heart.
Set mostly in the Borscht Belt, Adler's satiric take on 1930s New York gangsters falls short of the mark set by such other novels of his as The War of the Roses. Mickey Fine, an itinerant entertainer known as a tumler, has landed a gig at a Catskill hotel frequented by some of the leading thugs of the day. He falls for Mutzie Feder, a frustrated young woman from Brooklyn who's ended up as the girlfriend of Pittsburgh Phil Strauss (aka Pep) after a makeover so she looks like Jean Harlow. As Fine's feelings for Mutzie grow, he runs afoul of the jealous Pep and must develop a plan to free her from the life of prostitution the gangster has planned for her. At times Adler overdoes the Brooklynese dialogue ("Certain tings make me crazy. Like sweet liddle canaries who can't keep der lips clamped shut"), while some readers may find the parodic element makes it hard to engage emotionally with the characters. (Mar.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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March 11, 2008
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