Out of the Bronx: The Joel Sachs Stories

Jerome Kass
  • Review
By – November 6, 2014

You don’t have to be Jew­ish or from the Bronx to be drawn into the fam­i­ly dynam­ic in this com­ing-of-age sto­ry open­ing in 1947. Jerome Kass deft­ly presents a dys­func­tion­al but famil­iar fam­i­ly, com­plete with bad mar­riage, sib­ling rival­ry, and eco­nom­ic strife. Add to this the tri­als and tribu­la­tions of emerg­ing teenagers, and in time, many of life’s pos­si­ble traumas. 

We take this jour­ney with Joel, a kind, nat­u­ral­ly lov­ing, and industri­ous kid. He some­how nav­i­gates the treach­er­ous road between his dis­hon­est, gam­bling dad; fraz­zled mom; jeal­ous, angry old­er sis­ter Fan­ny, and adored younger sis­ter, Glo­ria, of ques­tion­able DNA

Love is the elu­sive prize in these sto­ries. Mea­sured, offered, ac­cepted, tossed away, or so deeply buried it dis­ap­pears. Lis­ten in. Glo­ria, turn­ing six­teen, is for­ev­er taunt­ed by Fan­ny about who her real father is. She tells Joel, who says, She’s still teas­ing you about that? My God, when is she going to grow up?” And Glo­ria answers, Some­times I think she’s crazy.” She is,” said Joel, furi­ous. And mean.” Glo­ria comes back with, I told her she wouldn’t say things like that if she wasn’t jeal­ous of me. I said, Maybe if you weren’t so mean, Mom­my and Dad­dy and Joel would love you as much as they love me.’” This thread con­tin­ues right to the death bed. I nev­er loved any­one,” said Fan­ny. I have no love in me. I don’t even know what love is. You have to be loved to know love.” 

This is the first work of fic­tion for Kass, acclaimed writer for stage and screen. The episodes of Joel’s life read like a col­lec­tion of scenes head­ed for pro­duc­tion. With each sto­ry we won­der, with some amount of empa­thy, about the long term effects of such fam­i­ly life. Sure­ly many have made it through, with great suc­cess. Give Joel an ear, see how you feel!

Relat­ed content:

Pen­ny Metsch, MLS, for­mer­ly a school librar­i­an on Long Island and in New York City, now focus­es on ear­ly lit­er­a­cy pro­grams in Hobo­ken, NJ.

Discussion Questions