by Jerome Charyn
published by Liveright
Why read? Review
I will admit that I have a love/hate relationship with Jerome Charyn’s writing. I really enjoy his more contemporary stories, but I find his historical fiction tedious. While the settings of a few stories in Bitter Bronx do technically fall into the historical fiction category, all thirteen stories were engaging and, as the title suggests, bitter.
Out of the thirteen stories in Bitter Bronx, my favorite was “Archy and Mehitabel”, quite possibly because the author inserted a version of himself into the story. I also greatly enjoyed “Milo’s Last Chance” and “Major Leaguer”, but of which were not quite as bitter as the rest, or at least not in my interpretation. A few of the stories even loosely tied together. “Adonis” and “Archy and Mehitabel” were both about a teen model for a company with mob ties. “Silk & Silk”, “Little Sister”, and “Marla” were all about a successful lawyer named Marla Silk, although a few aspects of her life changed from story to story.
Bitter Bronx is a wonderful collection that showcases the better parts of Jerome Charyn’s writing style. While these stories are bitter, they are not utterly depressing, and make for great reads either individually or together.