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Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners: New York Stories

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  19 ratings  ·  12 reviews
From the author of THE LOVE BOOK, a collection of gritty tales set in New York City, a town full of characters who are as out of place in their own skins as they are in the ever-evolving neighborhoods they call home. - In an old Italian neighborhood that is not so Italian anymore, two locals who spent their entire lives there suddenly feel out of place. - For Ramon, a jani ...more
Paperback, 148 pages
Published October 7th 2010 by Bully Press
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I don't often have such visceral reactions to books as I did to Ken Wohlrob's collection of short stories, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners. The stories made me laugh, choke, and feel sick from the smells of New York City in the worst of an August heat spell. The writing is that vivid, the depiction of the city that real: if the writing had been any less brilliant, it would have been too painful to read.

I particularly loved two of the stories: "Job in Williamsburg," a story of a young ar
Lavinia Ludlow
In 2010, Bully Press released Ken Wohlrob’s collection titled Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, a compilation about the struggles to survive in a place as unforgiving as New York.

It’s obvious Ken put a lot of effort to craft such eccentric stories about vagabonds, misfits, and sinners, cancer, broken relationships, flashbacks, death, and dysfunction. I was; however, expecting more New York City gritty like that of Tony O’Neill and Arthur Nersesian, and less “Ramón’s desire for her boiled
Kristin Fouquet
Ken Wohlrob must love his city. The author of The Love Book returns with stories so encrusted with the ambiance of New York, they could not have come from anyone else other than a resident. These stories, sometimes soft focused and sentimental about the city that was, other times microscopic in their harsh scrutiny, share one thing in common- characters. Wohlrob empathizes with these denizens occupying a rapidly evolving environment.

Many years back, on my first trip to New York, a friend warned
Asma Fedosia
Mar 19, 2011 Asma Fedosia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Asma Fedosia by: Ken Wohlrob
Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, the first book I've read by Ken Wohlrob, is set in New York City's boroughs. 'Non Ho Tutto il Giorno' ['I Do Not Have All Day'] describes one day in an Italian man's and an Italian woman's lives and the frequent reminiscences to their pasts in the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. 'Job in Williamsburg' [Job, as in the Biblical character] comes across as very refreshing in that the painting of a vagabond by a Latino janitor/artist finds its home ...more
Although things start out bad for Ken Wohlrob’s characters, they will soon endure worse. In his aptly named new collection of stories, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits and Sinners, Wohlrob presents a cast of New York denizens trapped by self-delusion, drug addiction, dehumanizing jobs, self-destructive ambitions, family loyalty, old school entropy, smothering debt and always reliable fate, whose only reward for this shit blizzard called life is a moment or two of stunning bewildering truth. In the fi ...more
New York City, to the tourist or commuter, is a period of temporary exposure to a mass of people, traffic, smells and sights. To the long term resident, those that were born in "The City", or have lived there long enough, it can be an isolating, indifferent, anonymous place. You can be utterly alone among millions of people. Manhattan and especially Brooklyn, are not just large cities or boroughs, they are made up of many neighborhoods, ethnic enclaves, islands of comfort and familiarity. Manhat ...more
Disclosure: I won this book in a drawing.

5 short stories, all set in NYC. Filled with characters. Could this be the Flannery O'Connor of Brooklyn? Maybe! Ken Wohlrob does a great job making you feel like you're there. Anyone who has experienced a hot summer day in Manhattan will have a flood of memory while reading Claimus Flees Manhattan. The dirty humid air, the stink all came back to me.
My favorite story is Job in Williamsburg. I can't quite figure out if Job is so excited he's speechless o
Interwoven throughout all of these stories is the struggle to hold onto one's identity and who the characters, and readers, think we are in the face of change and loss and disappointment, whether that be neighborhoods or relationships, scams or art sales.

See full review -
So...finally I'm reviewing this book that I read--how many months ago? 2? That's not good. I won this book through Firstreads a few months ago and I'm just now getting around to properly reviewing it.

I don't think my procrastination has much to do with the book itself (seeing as how I really liked it), but more with my personal lethargy and habit of putting things off for long spans of time.

Ken Wohlrob did an amazing job with this novel (novella? anthropology?). Honestly, I was surprised becaus
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

While making my way through Ken Wohlrob's Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits and Sinners, I couldn't help but think about something I read a few years ago about author Nelson Algren, of how he forever had a love/hate relationship with the first novel he ever wrote, which he blamed on the politically active, overl
Short stories about the gritty underbelly of New York City. I like that.

The plots and characters are original. The writing is uncluttered. I had a problem with POV in The Look. Claimus Flees Manhattan was just too weird for me.

Apr 10, 2012 Alan marked it as to-read
Shelves: short-stories
looks interesting
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KEN WOHLROB is the author of No Tears For Old Scratch Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners , and The Love Book. In addition, he is a guitarist in Eternal Black and El Mano Negro. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Visit the author on the web at

You can also reach out via Facebook and Twitter.
More about Ken Wohlrob...
The Love Book No Tears For Old Scratch Job in Williamsburg The Metronome Winds Down

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