Summer Frenzy and Winter Desolation
I have finished my deceased partner Bob’s other work of fiction set in Coney Island, The Coney Island Memoirs of Sebastian Strong. If The Professor conveys the mutterings of age and experience, this novel is a song of youth. The time is 1951 to 1961, long before AIDS, but when everyone drank and smoked too much. Young Sebastian Strong, the narrator, falls in love with Coney Island, knows it in all seasons, connects there with a string of young male lovers.
|Here is Bob, about age 20, at Coney, |
with beach and amusement park behind him.
The book is full of weird but fascinating urban characters like Jake, who are seen in an atmosphere of summer frenzy with roaring roller coasters and beach-strutting sun worshippers, alternating with the silence of winter desolation. Sister Zora, a no-nonsense lesbian in engineer's jeans, reads palms for a dollar fifty, then disappears when the cold weather comes. Jessye, a heavy black woman, tough and assertive, sells beers to gay boys in her under-the-boardwalk bar, and with an eye out for the cops, lets the boys dance with each other to music from her jukebox. And many more. No wonder Sebastian quits college, comes to live year-round at the Surf Hotel, and gets a job at a bingo parlor patronized in all kinds of weather by older Jewish ladies who are charmed by his youth and his looks. Sebastian is held fast by "these juxtaposed beasts of land and sea," the "old Dragon" that is Coney, facing defiantly the force of the ocean.
|Coney Island in summer. Sebastian loves this.|
|Coney Island beach in winter. Sebastian loves this, too.|
How to Cope with Rejection: Five Tips
|Me at BookCon 2017. No big sign, no big bookrack, the books lying flat on the table. Yes, there's a dish of candy, but I had a lot to learn.|
My young friend Silas and me at the 2018 Brooklyn Book Festival. I'm a bit tousled, but that's okay for an author. Smiles, a big book rack crammed with books, and a big sign you can't see. We jazzed it up.
- Play another game.
- Jazz up your scene.
- It’s not personal; adjust.
- Get wise, consult, scale down.
- Get physical.
If you love the city (or hate it), this may be the book for you. An award winner, it sold well at BookCon 2017 and 2018, and at the Brooklyn Book Festival 2018.
"If you want wonderful inside tales about New York, this is the book for you. Cliff Browder has a way with his writing that makes the city I lived in for 40 plus years come alive in a new and delightful way. A refreshing view on NYC that will not disappoint." Five-star Amazon customer review by Bill L.
"A real yarn of a story about a lovable pickpocket who gets into trouble and has a great adventure. A must read." Five-star Amazon customer review by nicole w brown.
"This was a fun book. The main character seemed like a cross between Huck Finn and a Charles Dickens character. I would recommend this." Four-star LibraryThing review by stephvin.
"A lively and entertaining tale. The writing styles, plot, pace and character development were excellent." Four-star LibraryThing early review by BridgitDavis.
"I am glad that I have read this book as it goes into great detail and the presentation is amazing. The Author obviously knows his stuff." Four-star LibraryThing early review by Moiser20.
What was the gay scene like in nineteenth-century New York? Gay romance, but women have read it and reviewed it. (The cover illustration doesn't hurt.)
"At times amusing, gritty, heartfelt and a little sexy -- this would make a great summer read." Four-star Amazon customer review by BobW.
"Really more of a fantasy of a 19th century gay life than any kind of historical representation of the same." Three-star Goodreads review by Rachel.