Three Bal­conies: Sto­ries and a Novella

  • Review
By – January 10, 2012
Three Bal­conies, Bruce Jay Friedman’s new col­lec­tion, com­pris­es of six­teen top­sy­turvy sto­ries and one novel­la. 

In the title sto­ry, Har­ry, the main char­ac­ter, tries to come to terms with the mean­ing of his wom­an­iz­ing. When he goes to Flori­da in antic­i­pa­tion of a script writ­ing deal, thoughts of leap­ing off his con­do bal­cony enter his mind. But as before in life, Har­ry can­not com­mit to any­one or any­thing, includ­ing his own demise. 

The Inves­ti­gate Reporter” fol­lows the bleak exis­tence of Alexan­der Kahn, a failed nov­el­ist, fum­bling through life. When Kahn gets a call to inves­ti­gate a south­ern pen­i­ten­tiary, he finds prison a clean, invit­ing place where proud prison chefs in great white hats stood beam­ing over vats of” fresh veg­eta­bles. Kahn is even more shocked when he finds his futile nov­el in the stacks of the prison library: This is real­ly something…I didn’t even know there were any copies in print. And to find it in prison,” fore­shad­ow­ing Kahn’s ulti­mate real­iza­tion that prison should be his new home, where his failed lit­er­ary lega­cy will be tru­ly appreciated.

In the short novel­la, The Great Beau LeVyne,” upcom­ing play­wright Cliff meets pow­er­ful Beau LeVyne, pro­duc­er and socialite. Cliff s inter­ac­tions with Beau’s infa­mous friends echo The Great Gats­bys themes of lost inno­cence and hero wor­ship linger just beneath the story’s sur­face. Cliff and Beau even­tu­al­ly part ways, with Beau end­ing in prison. They meet a final time, after his release, with the dimin­ished Beau aged dra­mat­i­cal­ly… His eyes were watery and sub­dued as if he had under­gone a reli­gious conversion.” 

Friedman’s sto­ries are frac­tured tales full of failed writ­ers, play­wrights, and pro­duc­ers. His sharp lan­guage and iron­ic metaphors make them well worth reading.
Gary Katz received an MA in Eng­lish from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Nebras­ka-Oma­ha. He is the library admin­is­tra­tor for the Krip­ke Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion Library in Oma­ha, Nebras­ka, one of the largest Judaica libraries in the Unit­ed States.

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