Comedy and tragedy are combined in The Prince of West End Avenue as Otto Korner, the narrator, directs his quirky, libidinous fellow residents of a retirement home in a production of Hamlet, all the while recalling his life's adventures spanning the 20th century in Europe and then America. Korner is a Holocaust survivor, and the arrival of a luscious new employee who bears a shocking resemblance to a woman he had loved in his youth throws him back into the past. The narrator weaves together past and present, with events cresting at the performance of Hamlet. Though the machinations of the Emma Lazarus retirement home's Dickensian residents are always in the novel's foreground, the character and history of the narrator, Hamlet-like himself, are gradually revealed as the story's integral backdrop. His flashbacks include his precocious beginnings as a would-be poet, his bungled encounters with the incipient Dada movement and with Lenin in World War I Zurich, his first marriage and his life in Weimar Germany during the rise of Hitler, his experience of the Holocaust, and his immigration to the United States and second marriage. Little by little, and with increasing urgency, he is forced to confront truths about himself that he had thought safely buried. These unwelcome memories are interspersed (and overlap) with the current doings at the retirement home, the hilarious rivalries, factions, jockeying for position, and passionate love affairs of the residents. The novel ends on the night of the first public performance of the Emma Lazarus Old Vic's production of Hamlet, shortly after the last of Otto Korner's secrets is wrung from him. His is a story of life's chaos, complexity, richness -and moral dilemmas. It is a story of how our human qualities - pride, envy, timidity - can sometimes lead us to unintentionally hurt or even destroy those we love.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Alan Isler, born in England, emigrated to the United States at eighteen. He taught English literature at New York?s Queens College from 1967 to 1995 and now lives in London.From Kirkus Reviews:
Memories of past sorrow and misspent passion come unbidden to an elderly Holocaust survivor in this elegant novel, when a woman bearing a resemblance to an old love joins the staff at a retirement home located on Manhattan's Upper West Side. While most of the residents of the Emma Lazarus home are busy squabbling over the casting and the direction of Hamlet, Otto Korner, challenging ghosts of his own, feels appropriately cast as the Gravedigger. A published poet at 19, and unable to serve in the army, he is sent to Zurich by his family at the advent of World War I. There he meets a thoughtful, bookish Lenin, an ``unmannered oaf'' named James Joyce, and is an unhappy midwife at Tristan Tzara's birthing of the Dadaist movement. It is there, too, that he becomes obsessed with the high-spirited, scornful Magda Damrosch, whose likeness he sees 60 years later in the ``dull, empty-headed'' physical therapist from Cleveland. His placid, unreflective life at the retirement home, already shaken, is further disturbed when a prized letter from the poet Rilke, praising his ``precocious talent,'' is stolen. Someone begins sending clues in verse-- ``charades,'' he calls them--and they tax both his literary and personal memory. Isler moves smoothly from war to war and to the present, with Korner moving among memories of his youth; of his two wives (``both...were cremated, only one of them by her own request''); of his emigration in 1947 to New York, where he found his sister hanged in her kitchen (``I stuffed Lola's memory high on the closet shelf with the rest of my past and closed the door tightly''); and of his quiet, uneventful years at the New York Public Library where, ironically, he was placed in charge of materials published in Germany between 1929 and 1945. A delicious, evocative, gentle debut, written in prose to be savored and cherished. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Penguin Books, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0140245146
Book Description Penguin Books, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0140245146
Book Description Penguin Books 1995-08-01, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. First Edition. 0140245146 We guarantee all of our items - customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities. Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Bookseller Inventory # TM-0140245146
Book Description Penguin Books, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110140245146
Book Description Penguin Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0140245146 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0026803