Grady's Reviews > Hollywood via Orchard Street

Hollywood via Orchard Street by Wayne  Clark
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
1362506
's review

it was amazing

‘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.
flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Hollywood via Orchard Street.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 25, 2018 – Shelved

No comments have been added yet.