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The Tenants of Moonbloom

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  489 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews

Norman Moonbloom is a loser, a drop-out who can't even make it as a deadbeat. His brother, a slumlord, hires him to collect rent in the buildings he owns in Manhattan. Making his rounds from apartment to apartment, Moonbloom confronts a wildly varied assortment of brilliantly described urban characters, among them a gay jazz musician with a sideline as a gigolo, a Holocaus

Paperback, 252 pages
Published March 1st 1973 by Harvest Books (first published 1963)
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Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it
Eccentric and unusual novel, not well enough known and wonderful. It takes you to the depths of despair with a redemptive ending.
Norman Moonbloom is in his thirties and very much alone. he has been a student for years and now works for his brother Irwin; a strong character who orders Norman around. Irwin owns a number of delapidated apartment blocks and Norman is employed to collect the rent and in theory to keep them in repair, but has not enough budget to do so.
The novel follows Norman as he
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2011
"Succeeding frames had him a reedy adolescent, a toddler, a blanket-sucker of seven. His eyes fixed on the ceiling or on the rumpled cloth of bedclothing, as though any surface could reflect the pale projection. 'Norman Moonbloom,' he said from time to time, animating the machinery of memory. The city went on in its outside time. There were the sounds of the days rising to climax and settling back to half-sleep. Dimly came the footsteps of his neighbors going up and down the stairs and the voice ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square

But I felt that the author was keen that it go somewhere.

I was enjoying the ride! That was enough!

"the favorite fantasy was only another soporific, one that parted the curtains of sleep for him. Like a boy's night story, it made him smile in the dark. He put himself into the huge form of his father and imagined the world as his playground."

"'By the time I got her to a supine position, I almost didn't care.'
'L'amour,' Norman said, writing out the receipt."

"'I'd appreciate it,' she said.
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE TENANTS OF MOONBLOOM. (1963). Edward Lewis Wallant. *****.
This is a fantastic novel, one that should have received a great deal of recognition from critics and readers alike – but somehow fell into the dustbin of forgotten books. Edward Lewis Wallant (1926-1962) had published two novels before his death in 1962 from an aneuryism, “The Human Season,” and “The Pawnbroker.” Two other novels, including this one, were published posthumously. “The Pawnbroker,” of course, was adapted into an unfor
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and way underappreciated. This is an eccentric cousin of Confederacy of Dunces; you know the type -- myriad partners, straddling the fence as it were, some messy business with a tax-dodge start-up, that one weird holiday when the tequila ghostwrote his version of middle school and what really happened at swimming practice.

Yeah this is that off-shoot and it remains profound and side-splitting.
Chuck LoPresti
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In lesser hands this depiction of apartment life in NY wouldn't transcend the mundane and pedestrian like it does so consistently. Amidst a motley assortment of very normal people, warts and all, Moonbloom pulls his own pantseat to lift himself out of the misery of his own failure. A desultory academic with a keen ear and just enough tolerance, Moonbloom is not a sick-and-tired-of-it-all man stewing in his own bitterness. He's more like a man that's fouled a few off, down two stikes and still sw ...more
Tyler Jones
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sqaulor
When I was a bookseller this was one of the novels I loved telling my customers about. Invariably a week or so after buying it the customer would burst into the bookstore and tell me how this was one of the best novels they had ever read and would wonder how they had never heard of it. One of my co-workers was also a huge champion of the book and together we cobbled together a review which began: "Getting us to explain why we love this book so much is kind of like asking your dog why he likes Mi ...more
Kobe Bryant
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The description makes the book sound lame but its actually very cool
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb, i-love-new-york
I’m really shocked by the 4/5 star reviews on this book. This took me a while to get through despite its brevity (it’s a little over 200 pages) and my endless amount of free time. Wallant is a beautiful writer, but its completely wasted on such a tiresome book. The characters are completely repugnant. The setting is bleak (and I love bleak). The plot is in no way compelling (quick synopsis: Norman Moonbloom is a rental agent for his slum-lord-brother’s tenements in 1950s NYC. He collects the ren ...more
Sep 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dreamers, pragmatists
Recommended to Diana by: Samuel
Shelves: alltimefavorites
What an incredibly quirky little gem of a book! I had never heard of this author, but my brother Sam reviewed it (on GoodReads!) so positively that I bought it when I read his review many months ago, and just picked it up recently when I had nothing to read on the commute to work. The very compelling succinct introduction by none other then Dave Eggers hooked me, and then the story itself drew me in with its amusing cast of sweet, sad, gross, pathetic and just weird characters.

Moonbloom is a ren
Aug 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all you softies
I really liked this one. A quiet and directionless academic, Norman Moonbloom gets stuck being the rent collector for his brother's failing apt building in NYC. The building is falling apart and but's not allowed to spend any of the building's money on repairs. As he goes around to collect rent he gets more and more wrapped up in the lives of his tenants and ends up making their repairs himself. The tenants are a diverse bunch - immigrants, a holocaust survivor, jazz musician, a character based ...more
I absolutely love this book. For anyone who has ever lived in a New York Apartment building. Ever.
Dec 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m-r-shelf
What an amazing book!
Wallant, who also penned "The Pawnbroker", visits the life of Norman Moonbloom, a Building Agent for his slumlord brother. Moonbloom collects rent weekly from all the tenants of his brother's 4 buildings, thereby becoming a part of their lives, and he takes the brunt of their complaints regarding tenement conditions.
Tenants include:
- Basellecci: The dignified man with the swollen toilet wall
- Jerry Wung: The Asian playboy hipster
- Beeler and his daughter Sheryl: Retired pha
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: turn-a-phrase
from a would-be james baldwin to a creepy old guy who can't walk, norman moonbloom has the blessing that so many literary characters do of being surrounded almost exclusively by delightful eccentrics. against this backdrop, his own unlikely determination to fight for them against the indifference of his slumlord brother is all the more inspiring. sure it speaks to the human condition, but considering most of the characters (even the titular moonbloom) ended up being remote and motiveless i'll sa ...more
Mar 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: if you liked Orwell's Down and Out in Paris
Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and this book are like companion pieces; the city's din, the grime and the vibrant characters dance off the pages of each book and both authors have this strong sense of humanity, profound respect for the lives they are depicting.

but where the characters Orwell meets effuse love and rage and seem to pass through like the quirky travel story you tell as a lark, Moonbloom's tenants have a fragile vulnerability that aches for something better than the decrepit buildi
Karlo Mikhail
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like a modern-day Zacheous, a rent collector is humanized by his encounter with an assortment of tenants and their host of everyday problems from family affairs to the deteriorating walls, plumbing, lighting, electricity, and other fixtures of their decrepit apartment. From a resigned and mechanical performance of his duty of just collecting taxes, the constant fraternization with his tenants compel him to an apocalyptic act that will at once improve their lives and redeem his existence. This is ...more
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've finished the Tennants of Moonbloom, and now that it's over, I miss Norman, and all the folks in his buildings. If you've lived in NYC in an apartment, then you know. I got there to the East Village 20 years later....but I had a collection, an assortment of characters myself...Billy Eckstein's son, Bokar the devil worshipper...etc. It makes me very sad that Edward Lewis Wallant didn't have more time on this earth, to give us more of his excellent writing.
Graham P
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book as much about grasping at identity as it is a grotesque comedy about urban life. Savage and yet tender, Wallant has quickly become a hero of mine. His turn of metaphor touches all the senses, and his characterization populates a cast playing the carnival, both sacred and profane. A genuine, thoughtful, and absurdly touching book.
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Začalo to na dvou hvězdičkách, pak se to zlepšovalo na tři a vydrželo až do posledních kapitol. Za poslední tři kapitoly rád přidám půl hvězdičky. Co nelze Wallantovi upřít, jsou postřehy, které jeho knihu činí důvěryhodnou. Budu velkorysejší a dám 4 hvězdičky.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Please read this book!
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The tenants of Moonbloom Realty Corp are the poor, the dissolute, the forgotten and the forgetting. Several have blue numbers tattooed on their forearms. Norman Moonbloom, "New York's most educated rent-collector" now works for his slum landlord brother, Irwin, after decades spent as a feckless student, hopping from discipline to discipline. Norman, small, thin, with a " gambler-white face", wears a suit and oversized fedora which make him look like a child dressed as a gangster, and spends his
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Humanity, in all of its brutal ugliness, told by a master, in an interesting tale.
Aug 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had trouble getting into this one at first, because it started out so slow and didn't get interesting until the second half. I likely would not have finished "The Tenants of Moonbloom" if it weren't for its setting--seedy, urban decay, circa 1960s during winter time--and the rave reviews that the novel received, especially since I usually only give a book 50 pages to grab me. Well, I finally finished it, and I'm glad I did. It was worth the effort because it was ultimately a beautiful story of ...more
Aug 09, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Norman Moonbloom es una persona anodina y triste, cuyo trabajo consiste en administrar varias fincas en el Manhattan de los años 50. Este puesto se lo ha proporcionado Irwin, su hermano y dueño de la empresa inmobiliaria, casi por caridad, para que tenga algo que hacer. Y eso que Norman está "demasiado preparado" para este trabajo, ya que tiene varios títulos en diversas disciplinas.

En general, me gustan estas historias de perdedores, de gente que no encuentra su lugar en la sociedad, y esta nov
Tereza M
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pestrá řada novodobé prózy nakladatelství Plus se mi líbí čím dál víc! Nájemníci pana Moonblooma je kousek života správce čtyř činžáků v Americe, kniha vyšla roku 1963 mladému autorovi, který také v mládí zemřel.
Wallant projevuje nesporný talent v popisu postav, nezvěřitelně rozmanité charaktery dokáže popisovat k ležérní dokonalostí. Vlastně se nicmoc velkého neděje, ale ti lidé vám připadají čím dál zajímavější - nebo spíš ty jemné či hrubší rozdíly mezi jejich konkrétní nezajímavostí. Perfekt
Nancy Bobillo
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Norman Moonbloom es agente inmobiliario en la empresa de su hermano Irwin. Cobra alquileres y aparenta que soluciona los problemas de los inquilinos, pero no dispone de medios para hacerlo realmente. Acostumbrado a ver pasar su propia vida de forma pasiva (al menos de un tiempo a esa parte) y autocompasiva, aburrido de su existencia, realiza su trabajo con la misma carencia de pasión y valentía con la que vive. Sin embargo, el contacto diario con los inquilinos se convertirá para Norman en un re ...more
Jim Corcoran
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, this is one of the best books I've ever read. It shows us one thing that ties us all together and yet that we all forget: Humans are interesting! We all have stories, pasts, futures we'd like to see realized, disappointments, resentments.

Norman Moonbloom is all of us. He wavers between dedication and stagnation. Moonbloom is a great character, in every way. He's a mystery, yet I felt like I've known him forever.

If the last pages of this book don't make you want to run out of your hou
Reed Jackson
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one surprised me; with it's urban setting, mentally shaky hero and detailed depictions of squalor, I expected sort of an unhinged bleakness, along the lines of Nathaniel West. Instead, amidst all the crazy despair and desperation, there's a core of warm human feeling that verges on the sentimental and then pulls back at the last second. West and Wallant both had a killer instinct for the weak spots of civilization, and could go for the jugular with a precise motion and acid glee. Wallant st ...more
Andrew Maxwell
Dec 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Immaculate sentences. The critic that compared Wallant to Nate West didn't overshoot the mark.

An indefinite frumplepuss parade marches laterally beside dimly lit vitrines that cradle some absentee landlord's indifferent objets d'art: almost-too-neat characterizations dealt in comic-strip serialism. Suddenly, a man with no qualities gets tenderhearted, and tenderheartedness leads to lightheadedness, then blunt trauma, then a shitstorm (literally!) of grace.

It's really good.
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, male, usa
Fantastic book. Essentially a set of loosely linked character portraits, the individuals who inhabit Moonbloom's apartment block are depicted honestly, but without cruelty. Moonbloom himself moves as an everyman amongst them and his transformation is handled in a beautiful and understated fashion. The entire book is suffused with warmth and character.

It's been less than two months since I read it, and already I'm tempted to go back and start again.
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NYRB Classics: The Tenants of Moonbloom, by Edward Lewis Wallant 1 7 Oct 30, 2013 07:52PM  
  • A Meaningful Life
  • The Outward Room
  • Nights in the Gardens of Brooklyn
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • The New York Stories of Henry James
  • Testing the Current
  • In Love
  • Irretrievable
  • Afloat
  • A Way of Life, Like Any Other
  • Soul of Wood
  • Sheppard Lee, Written by Himself
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • The Unpossessed
  • Indian Summer
  • Ride a Cockhorse
  • The New York Stories
  • The World as I Found It
Wallant began to write professionally at age twenty nine. He had served in the Second World War as a gunner's mate. He attended the University of Connecticut and graduated from Pratt Institute and studied writing at The New School in New York. While he worked as an advertising art director, Wallant wrote at night.

Wallant died of an aneurysm at the age of 36.
More about Edward Lewis Wallant...

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“Courage, Love, Illusion (or dream, if you will) -- he who possesses all three, or two, or at least one of these things wins whatever there is to win; those who lack all three are the failures.” 12 likes
“He got into the tub and ran a little cold water. Then he lowered his thin, hairy body into the just-right warmth and stared at the interstices between the tiles. Sadness--he had experienced that emotion ten thousand times. As exhalation is to inhalation, he thought of it as the return from each thrust of happiness.

Lazily soaping himself, he gave examples.

When he was five and Irwin eight, their father had breezed into town with a snowstorm and come to see them where they lived with their grandparents in the small Connecticut city. Their father had been a vagabond salesman and was considered a bum by people who should know. But he had come into the closed, heated house with all the gimcrack and untouchable junk behind glass and he had smelled of cold air and had had snow in his curly black hair. He had raved about the world he lived in, while the old people, his father and mother, had clucked sadly in the shadows. And then he had wakened the boys in the night and forced them out into the yard to worship the swirling wet flakes, to dance around with their hands joined, shrieking at the snow-laden branches. Later, they had gone in to sleep with hearts slowly returning to bearable beatings. Great flowering things had opened and closed in Norman's head, and the resonance of the wild man's voice had squeezed a sweet, tart juice through his heart. But then he had wakened to a gray day with his father gone and the world walking gingerly over the somber crust of dead-looking snow. It had taken him some time to get back to his usual equanimity.

He slid down in the warm, foamy water until just his face and his knobby white knees were exposed.

Once he had read Wuthering Heights over a weekend and gone to school susceptible to any heroine, only to have the girl who sat in front of him, whom he had admired for some months, emit a loud fart which had murdered him in a small way and kept him from speaking a word to anyone the whole week following. He had laughed at a very funny joke about a Negro when Irwin told it at a party, and then the following day had seen some white men lightly kicking a Negro man in the pants, and temporarily he had questioned laughter altogether. He had gone to several universities with the vague exaltation of Old Man Axelrod and had found only curves and credits. He had become drunk on the idea of God and found only theology. He had risen several times on the subtle and powerful wings of lust, expectant of magnificence, achieving only discharge. A few times he had extended friendship with palpitating hope, only to find that no one quite knew what he had in mind. His solitude now was the result of his metabolism, that constant breathing in of joy and exhalation of sadness. He had come to take shallower breaths, and the two had become mercifully mixed into melancholy contentment. He wondered how pain would breach that low-level strength. "I'm a small man of definite limitations," he declared to himself, and relaxed in the admission.”
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