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Hollywood via Orchard Street

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Deciding that the hopelessness he sees around him on New York’s squalid Lower East Side during the Great Depression isn’t for him, a young man invents an alter ego with the chutzpah he hopes will make a name for himself. In the process he accidentally ignites a war between the Irish mob and a Chinese tong, learns to drink and finds love for the first time. Will he and his alter ego ever reunite? They will have to if he doesn’t want to lose the love of a beautiful Broadway actress.

260 pages, Paperback

Published July 2, 2018

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About the author

Wayne Clark

5 books202 followers

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Wayne Clark is the author of literary-fiction novel he & She, historical fiction novels Hollywood via Orchard Street, That Woman: Beating the odds in Colonial New York, Vinegar Hill Blues and One Murder Too Many.

Award-winning author Wayne Clark was born in 1946 in Ottawa, Ont., but has called Montreal home since 1968. Woven through that time frame in no particular order have been interludes in Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver, Germany, Holland and Mexico.

By far the biggest slice in a pie chart of his career would be labelled journalism, including newspapers and magazines, as a reporter, editor and freelance writer. The other, smaller slices of the pie would also represent words in one form or another, in advertising as a copywriter and as a freelance translator. However, unquantifiable in a pie chart would be the slivers and shreds of time stolen over the years to write fiction.

He is the author of five novels, all set in New York City.

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Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for Janet.
322 reviews11 followers
April 30, 2020
I won this book on a Goodreads Giveaway and tried to do the right thing. My intention was to read and review the gift I was given. It wasn’t until 19%, and what felt like at least 20 content error submissions, before I realized I was taking my good intentions too far. I wasn’t getting paid to proofread!

How can an author not know that you have to use end quotes...or have a basic grasp of commas...or invest in a qualified proofreader? When my reading became more about seeking out the next typo than being engaged in the story, I knew it was time to put the book down. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

The thing is that other than the baffling lack of punctuation, the writing wasn’t bad. Proofreaders are a godsend!
Profile Image for Guy Wheatley.
Author 8 books14 followers
September 26, 2018
People tell you to “be yourself.” That didn’t work out so well for Charles Czerny. “i am nothing,” he declares with a little “i” to emphasize the point. He will eventually capitalize the "I" as his self esteem grows. This nobody has dreams and ambitions. He decided to become somebody and invents a persona with the grit and chutzpah to escape the squalid life of Orchard Street.
This a depression era story involving gangs with a feel of the musical “Gangs of New York.” Charles becomes “Bulldog,” and has a fascination with James Cagney. He doesn’t want to get involved in the seeder aspects of Gangster violence, but is still willing to hang around the edges, hoping for a break. He finds an old Underwood typewriter and this sparks his imagination to become a writer. His association with the mob puts him in position to get a couple of scoops that start him on his way.
This is an interesting story and as a reader, I invested enough in Charles to care about what happened to him. My only complaint is that his character is to greatly sanitized. We get only a nodding acknowledgement of the filth and violence that support the gangs. Charles floats serenely above the muck at the bottom to achieve his goals.
While not a classic, “Holly Via Orchard St.” is a good read, reminiscent of an old Cagney movie.
Profile Image for Grady.
Author 50 books831 followers
September 25, 2018
‘The Depression was forcing people without jobs to take to the streets to sell what little they owned.’

Canadian author Wayne Clark has been around - as a journalist, a reporter, and editor, a freelance writer and translator, a copywriter, and an astute observer of life in all its permutations. He travels (all over Canada, across the pond to Germany and Holland, and down in the third American level of Mexico), he sees, probably fantasizes a lot. Stir that pot and out comes a novelist who takes risks and makes them pan out for him. he & She was his first published complete novel - a taste of what he can create – and with THAT WOMAN we were treated with an adventurous ride. Now with HOLLYWOOD VIA ORCHARD STREET Wayne proves that he can detail cultural gaps and barriers and introduce a fine romance into the mix.

This book begins with the fine cover art by Caitlin Cox – a bedraggled typewriter image and Wayne once again suggests without an overture, choosing instead a brief prelude of the sensitivity of the story to come simply jumps right into the action –‘ “THE goal,” young Charles Czerny scribbled in pencil, “was to become someone else. I am nothing,” he wrote. “i must contort myself.” He had once seen the word “contortionist” on a circus poster and looked it up. As euphoria invaded, he changed the “i” to a capital “I”. “Nobody I know is anybody. And I mean anybody, up and down Orchard Street, and everywhere else.” Wielding with his new verb, he continued: “They need to learn about contorting themselves, or they’ll always be kind of sad in life. They would probably like to tell someone that they’re always kind of sad, but they don’t have the words to say it, so to speak. But I do. For example, ergo… I learned that word in school. What I want to say is, ‘Ergo, you must contort your life if you want to die reasonably satisfied.’ You can’t ask for it all, can you. You have to send your mind up in a balloon and take a look around at the possibilities. When you see one that twinkles like a penny firecracker, adopt it. Say, ‘That’s me 10 years from now or whatever.’ Rewrite your life. I mean your future. You are what you are right now, you are what your whiney aunt says you are, but tomorrow, and all the tomorrows to come, well, that’s up to you. Make up a story, then live it. He was pleased with his thoughts. There were a lot of them there. Those were the kind of thoughts he was sure writers have. The next day he did not pick up his pencil. The new centerpiece of the salon that had always doubled as his bedroom on Orchard Street was, as of that morning, the most magical thing he’d ever possessed, an Underwood typewriter, an Underwood Model 2, which he had found hours before in the rubble of a fire on Mangin Street, above Delancey, near the river.’

And as is his apparent style he outlines his story in a well-scripted synopsis; ‘Deciding that the hopelessness he sees around him on New York’s squalid Lower East Side during the Great Depression isn’t for him, a young man invents an alter ego with the chutzpah he hopes will make a name for himself. In the process he accidentally ignites a war between the Irish mob and a Chinese tong, learns to drink and finds love for the first time. Will he and his alter ego ever reunite? They will have to if he doesn’t want to lose the love of a beautiful Broadway actress.

Clark succeeds in this territory better than other authors in this genre because of the style with which he writes. He invites us into dark places but keep the focus on the frailty and durability of our humanity. There is much to be learned here and in the quality of fine prose and drama. Wayne Clark offers another solid novel.
Profile Image for Karyn H.
511 reviews7 followers
October 4, 2018
Charles Czerny from England used to live in Orchard Street with his mother and uncle. He depicts the importance of contorting to pursue a satisfied life. He had a typewriter as a memory from the street of Mangin and there was an analogy between the typewriter and working of his heart and mind. Due to depression those days, people wanted jobs so Charles was unable to express writing as his interest. In contrast to other boys of the same age, Charles’ addiction was newsprint. At the young age, he had left his school and dreamt of being the top writer. Mrs. Wilhelmina Schwartzmeier living in the same building knew everyone in the neighborhood and insisted Charles have children. When Charles’s uncle died he owned his truck and in the meantime got inspired from George who was going to undertake the punishment for the act of his brother who stole a tool from a garage. Charles often tried to learn the ways of making extra money with trucks from Gustav Gustafsson. Where Charles in one hand was trying to opt his uncle’s profession of delivering the newspaper, his mother devastated by the death of his uncle tried to commit suicide by jumping out of the window. On doctors’ suggestion, he took his mother from Bellevue Hospital to the circus and saw the first women who conquered his mind. This story is an awesome read and gives the reader the different perspective on life. One side is full of struggle and the other side shows emotions of handling family. I would recommend this book to anyone who cares about the family and is struggling to achieve something in life.
Profile Image for Payal Sinha.
Author 6 books20 followers
April 5, 2019
Hollywood via Orchard Street is a coming of age story in the times of depression. Here the protagonist Charles Chuck is a school dropout with no skills or abilities to make it big in the times of depression. However, he has a determined mind and he is ready to do anything with hook or crook to rise above his level. The boy's initial life is filled with loneliness, depravity, and misery. Even as a young child he is burdened with the responsibility to look after his ungrateful mother who scolds him for earning just nickels when his "uncle" brought real paper money and kept her in comfort. Hence, it is no wonder when he remains emotionless on his mother's death, while he sheds tears and feels the actual loss on the death of Mrs. Schwartzmeir, the lady who lived on the first floor of his building. Charles adopts a different personality to become successful in life. There are hazards, but fate eventually smiles on him and he attains his dream.

I liked the book due to many reasons. First, it gave a realistic picture of the depression days. Secondly, I came to know that there was sordidness in almost all the things and even something like the newspaper that reportedly sells the truth used vicious means to stay ahead of its competitors. Thirdly, I liked the simplicity of the story that shows a boy's progress into a man with little steps and all the hesitations, and confusions of the youth. Our hero is no extraordinary chap and is possessed with limited intelligence and imagination. Still, he is able to succeed in the world on the sole power of his perseverance.
Profile Image for Diane Robinson.
Author 8 books422 followers
July 15, 2018
"The goal,” young Charles Czerny scribbled in pencil, “was to become someone else.”—The opening line of Hollywood via Orchard Street instantly sets the pace of this story about a young man’s ambitions to leave the lackluster life of Orchard Street, to do something more with his life than to sell newspapers on the street.

Charles Czerny is a meek young man, a grade-seven dropout who can memorize poetry. He needs to create a persona that is tougher and bolder, a persona that will get him out of the depressing neighborhood he lives in. Hence, Bulldog is born.

Bulldog creates a different life for himself by inadvertently hooking up with the mob. The mob life connects him with important people who help shape Bulldog into a respected newspaper writer of mob news that eventually leads to his connections writing for Hollywood. The mob life, also, connects him to the most important woman in his life, Miss Shantell Vox—the ex moll of the New York mob boss, the woman he saves and the woman he falls in love with.

The characters of this story are so captivating and fully rounded out as the story progresses that the reader can’t help but to become a part of their lives. The writing is of the highest caliber. This is a gangster story, a love story, and a story of achievement with some humor thrown in for good measure. You won’t want to put this book down. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Jessica.
2,062 reviews12 followers
September 8, 2018
During the great depression, a young man named Charles Czerny decides to reinvent himself as someone who is tougher and would get him out of his dead-end job as a newspaper delivery boy. Even though most people would be immensely grateful to have a job in those times, Charles is a dreamer, he wants to be someone, so he will contort himself as he says to lift himself out of the poverty he lives in. This decision leads him into the arms of the Mob and as “Bulldog”, he starts working for them. On the side he still tries to keep in touch with the newspapers, selling tidbits and little pieces under his new moniker about celebrities he spots around town and he slowly starts making a name for himself.
This was a mashup of the classic mob story, a coming of age story and a story about how one person changed his life forever by digging in deep, finding some tenacity and grit and pushed on despite several setbacks. A very good story, written in an easy to understand style. The author gave us enough description to help us feel connected to the story but he never overdid it so you felt like you were drowning in the description of a scene.
Profile Image for Michellej.
144 reviews2 followers
October 11, 2018
The title “Hollywood via Orchard Street” acts as an instant jerk to your attention, with expectancy of bright lights and dazzle. I however think that the grit and grovel – the Great Depression – acts as a very stark contrast to the reality of the main character Charles Czerny. Charles has ambition and is very aware of his current impoverished situation but he actively plans for a better future as a journalist. Such an ambition at that time was really unusual when the average person was happy with having the lowest and dirtiest job working in an unsafe factory.
Charles’ journey is also coloured with his relationship with his mother after her partner died. You see Charles’ guilt in having to abandon her at the Bellevue hospital. You are also given a feel of the times when it was frowned upon women to be in “unmarried” partnerships as it was considered improper even when people couldn’t even afford a roof over their heads.
The writing is well crafted as characters are nicely developed to project multiple emotions and point of views that get you involved in the story. Very well written.
Profile Image for Valery.
1,298 reviews46 followers
September 24, 2018
Hollywood via Orchard Street by Wayne Clark is such a great story about one guy named Charles, and the challenges he faces during the Great Depression. This is a well thought out story, and Charles is an interesting character as we get to know him first as a young kid and then into adulthood. He aspires to be a writer, but leaving school in the 7th grade may not bode well for him. Instead, he has taught himself things he needs to know, not the least of which is how to survive. He ends up supporting his Mom when his "Uncle" dies suddenly, and soon, Charles' life begins to radically change. With his own truck, and delivering newspapers, he suddenly has his own business. Little does he know how his life will start to evolve with the real possibility of danger. This was a well written book with great attention to period detail that made you feel you were part of the story. A simple tone, good plot, with fascinating and real characters make this book an all around winner. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Amanda.
329 reviews
January 20, 2019
Hollywood Via Orchard Street in a Depression Era novel that follows Charles Czerny from boyhood. We watch Charles, an aspiring writer, reinvent himself rather dramatically in his quest for a different life for himself. All does not go smoothly though as he finds himself intertwined with mob bosses and gangsters along the way. Wayne Clark masterfully creates the scenes in a way that pulls the reader in with realistic dialogue littered with appropriate lingo and artfully describing each setting. The characters, especially Charley Czerny, are impossible to forget and give us all someone to root for.

I found Hollywood Via Orchard Street listed under several genres; Historical Fiction, Organized Crime, Coming of Age, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, and Literature. I would not recommend this to someone looking for Mystery, Thriller, or Suspense because while those things might be happening in the background by way of connection to Organized Crime, the main vein of the novel is not a mystery, a thriller, nor suspenseful.
190 reviews3 followers
April 14, 2019
What a treat this book is. The thing that blew me away is the atmosphere that the author created, that is hands down the best part. It is so much like some old Hollywood movie, with the setting and characters, gangs, criminals, dialogues, everything is so spot on and just dripping in atmosphere. I could roll around in ti, seriously. The author takes his time with developing plot and characters, and it pays off. Charles is excellent main character, likable, interesting, crafty, you just root for him all the way. Setting of Great Depression and New York is amazing, like I said, but it is worth mentioning again. There are lots of details, little things that make it a world that feels alive on the pages and one that you want to be part of. I can' really think of something that is seriously lacking in this book, maybe if I want to nitpick I would say that some of the characters are very easy to forget, like mobsters for example, but I guess that kind of thing is normal when you have that many of them. Besides that, this is a book I can seriously stand by.
1,201 reviews10 followers
May 20, 2019
I read one review before I bought this book that really made an impression on me and I have to say that I agree with him this is like an old James Cagney movie. It has that wonderful feel to it being sent during the Great Depression and The Gangs of New York or a big part of that time I'm always going to be no the main character in the book Charlie believes he's nothing even in the sizes this by using the little i instead of an uppercase I. So he decides to become someone else to escape the life that he is currently living. Unfortunately he ends up starting a war between two games the Chinese Tong and the Irish mob. But eventually he does find love. And it's tonight give too much more away I will in my review here just saying that you have got to read this book I love historical fiction most of them are written so far in the past you have no idea what's going on but this was the Heyday of my grandmother. And I have to say I loved it being set then during the Depression it gave the book a really good twist
Profile Image for Julius Blitzy.
476 reviews9 followers
September 12, 2018
There are so many hidden stories like this one scattered around all known ages of this world, who could tell this didn’t happen in reality? There is such an exquisite quality provided here that gives me a mix of emotions while reading, and that’s not an easy feat by any means.
The best version of yourself is probably not enough to face the depression of your time, but for Charles that’s just a mere obstacle to overcome, and when he succeeds he will overcome any sorrow in his life, but this new alter ego he will create, the world will not allow him to thrive.
The story and characters captivate you from the very beginning and the setting is exactly what you expect from that period of time, a story about the many lessons life taught you, there is no achieve in life, without consequences, if you face them, the outcome could be fatal, if you ignore them, it’s even worse.
Profile Image for Christine Lough.
43 reviews3 followers
January 24, 2019
This book was wonderful, I was able to relate to it on so many levels it was scary, and I think most people who read it will do the same. What really stuck out to me was the fact that the storyline was based on a man’s alter ego. He does things throughout the novel that he wouldn’t do as himself, basically, he was living a double life. In a sense, we all live a double life, we all have skeletons in our closets, and do or think things that we wouldn’t want anyone else to know about.

What drives the main character to create an alter ego was the era he was living in, it was the time of the great depression, things were very difficult and only the strongest survived. I am a history buff, so I have a lot of knowledge about the great depression, and he was very accurate in describing the events of that time.

This book was a great read, and I would definitely recommend it.
128 reviews15 followers
September 10, 2018
Gripping, exciting and unpredictable, I really enjoyed this book, the storylines great, all about a guy who makes an alter ego for himself and then starts living that life in order to achieve great things in a difficult time.

The character development is done brilliantly and the way that the two versions of the same self are intertwined is very clever.

There’s loads of mobs and gangsters and stuff in it which I always find interesting and exciting.

It made me question how we construct our own personas of who we are, what we represent and what we strive for. It reminded me that we our fluid, changing and our identity is not set in stone but can be fluid.

Overall a pretty good read.
Profile Image for Jimmy Jefferson.
1,043 reviews6 followers
September 12, 2018
Great depression creates life changing opportunity

Hollywood via orchard street is a well written story about the great depression era and a man who takes the opportunity to create himself in a whole new light. He is no longer a timid shy shadow. The new ego makes him desirable, tough, and strong. Of course he may have started a mob war in the process of his newly found courage. The characters are well developed and the descriptions of the time and era make you feel like you are right there in the great depression new York city. This is a grand journey that I would recommend to everyone to read. I enjoyed the story and the distraction from the everyday rat race. A must read for the avid fans of the historical adventures.
Profile Image for the-librarian.
170 reviews4 followers
February 11, 2020
Hollywood via Orchard Street is the story of Charles, a writer trying to scrape together a decent life for himself during the Great Depression era in New York City. Mr. Clark does a marvelous job of conjuring up that time-period and makes the characters and atmosphere feel authentic to the period, or at least authentic to our current romanticized version of that period through books and movies.

The plot involves a lot of twists and turns, difficult decisions in working with various crime lords, and a love story. It all comes together nicely and makes for a quick, fun, escapist read.
Profile Image for Archie.
422 reviews6 followers
September 7, 2018
Ambition and Challenges!
The story is a journey of a young man who has a goal to be someone else, who is stronger with hope to find a way to move ahead. In his journey he is able to transform himself, join mobs life, connects with Hollywood and falls in love. The plot that has a variety of characters from the newspaper business, Hollywood, gangster that connects well and overall based on an ambitious man who wants to go after his goal regardless of all challenges and obstacles.
Profile Image for Lauren.
69 reviews2 followers
June 12, 2019
A wonderfully written book about a man and his alter ego. I love the fact that the reason behind the alter ego developing is almost left up to you to decide. Personally, I feel that it is a survival instinct. The time of the great depression was rough to say the least, and this guys alter ego kept him going in a sense. At first I wondered whether or not it would be confusing to follow, but I had no issues. Hooked from the beginning, highly recommend.
851 reviews
March 29, 2020
I won a Kindle version of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.

This book reminded me of many gangster "streets of NYC" type movies. There's action, there are dames (sorry), there are thugs, warring gangs, and the grittiness of NYC during the 1930s. While I liked the overall idea, at times it seemed like the author threw more in because he could make it "even more" like those movies. An interesting idea, but it didn't always work for this reader.
Profile Image for Anishella Jb.
4 reviews
September 18, 2018
Hollywood via Orchard Street is the story of a young man named Charles who lived in New York’s Lower East Side during the Great Depression. I highly recommended this book. I couldn’t put it down. This book is for anyone who loves well-written historical novels, ones that are funny and full of gangsters and people who triumph against all odds.
January 24, 2019
Wayne Clark an author's name to remember!

How inventive, creative, scene setting, encaptivating and beautiful. This book felt like watching a movie from the 1920s. There is drama, dreams, tension, emotion but not too much emotion or flowery language.
181 reviews
November 8, 2019
Won this Ebook on Goodreads and loved it. It had everything I loved in it. A good son, a good mob story, Broadway drama and the underdog hero. Would love to see a sequel, miss Bulldog already!
25 reviews
November 14, 2019
I'm a fan of gangster stories but this goes beyond your run-of-the-mill mob. Love story, coming of age, finding friendship and finding ones self all rolled in to one.
171 reviews5 followers
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April 20, 2019
Need a movie about this

The battle between Charlie and his other persona is very entertaining. The whole story was SO fun to read I could picture it so vividly in my mind and everything! I could see this being a magical movie. Loved it so much, from beginning to end!
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