by David Perlstein



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 4/13/2023

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 340
ISBN : 9781663252180
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 340
ISBN : 9781663252197

About the Book

Early in the twentieth century, three children of poor Jewish immigrants stagger beneath the grueling promise of the American Dream. Nate Cohen, the pint-size, angry son of an alcoholic San Francisco prizefighter and Bohemian mother, becomes a parttime criminal. Working at a restaurant, he hurls bacon grease at an anti-Semitic employee and flees the city. As Ned Christianson, he cooks on cattle ranches in Northern California and Wyoming. After sleeping with a rancher’s daughter, Ned joins a Wild West show. Kayleh Rubenstein, a red-headed tailor’s daughter, becomes the child vaudeville star Clara Robbins. Her Uncle Henry (Zeev) manages her then sells her contract to a vaudeville star who abuses her and, when she finally resists, destroys her career. Clara descends into liquor and morphine. Jake Orlinsky, a New York orphan, performs as the child-magician Joseph Hartwig in a saloon below a brothel. After losing his job, he picks pockets and entertains on the street. Harry Houdini briefly befriends him. Following a fatal run-in at a New York nightclub, Jake escapes to California. The three young performers, all hiding their Jewish identities, meet at San Francisco’s 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Clara and Joseph have a brief affair. All go south to Los Angeles, ultimately seeking careers in silent films. Through the ex-gunfighter and lawman Wyatt Earp, Ned and Joseph are hired for a western—and get fired. Clara becomes the kept woman of a series of Hollywood executives and is raped at the home of Fatty Arbuckle. A murder prompts Ned and Joseph to leave Los Angeles. A suicide sends Clara north. They reunite in San Francisco where two violent events lead to tragedy and redemption.

About the Author

DAVID PERLSTEIN has authored seven other novels and many short stories. He also wrote the non-fiction God’s Others: Non-Israelites’ Encounters with God in the Hebrew Bible. David lives in San Francisco.