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Flatbush Flashback

A Message From the Author

 

I'm sure some of you were expecting to find my weekly blog post here. You might have even been looking forward to it. Since early 2019, I've been keeping readers apprised of all phases in Bobby in Naziland's life cycle: proofreading, fact checking, printing, a lost shipment of books(!), launch events, reviews, an appearance on the St. Louis Post Dispatch bestseller list, and, sadly, the "characters" who've died since the book was published.

 

Then the world as we knew it came to a standstill; my planned one-year promotional tour was cut short (I didn't get to the West Coast or Europe); and "Flatbush Flashback," became an illustrated addendum to the book itself.

 

There's no question that the pandemic had a shattering effect on small publishers and authors with new books. Bobby in Naziland was no exception. I prefer not to dwell on all that's happened since mid-March, not just to book publishing but to the life I used to know (and hope to know again).

 

I'm happy to say that a substantial number of "Flatbush Flashback" readers have bought Bobby in Naziland. Many of you bought multiple copies to share with your friends and family. Some of you posted reviews and wrote newspaper articles. A few of you organized readings. Many of you came to my events (and it was a trip to see people I hadn't seen since high school). A half dozen of the professional actors among you participated in the New York launch at the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street, and later recorded videos reading from the book. Many heartfelt thanks for your support!

 

This post marks the beginning of an interlude, not the end of Bobby in Naziland's life cycle. I'll continue to update "Flatbush Flashback." I'm just not going to do it every week. Blogging is time consuming, and at the moment I need to focus more energy on the book I'm currently writing

 

I should add that September 23 would have been my father's 97 birthday. He's one of the main characters in Bobby in Naziland. That's Irwin Rosen on the left.

 

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Should this pandemic ever end, Mary Lyn Maiscott and I plan to celebrate with a combination concert (her) and reading (me). For now, if anybody (or a group of people) would like to discuss Bobby in Naziland or any of my other books, e-mail me. We'll set something up, perhaps a Facebook Live event.

 

I'll leave you with a simple request: If you read Bobby in Naziland and enjoyed it, please spread the word, especially to former and current Flatbushians. And if you haven't read the book, I hope you will!

 

Stay well and be safe.

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Bobby in Naziland is available on Amazon and all other online booksellers, as well as at your local brick-and-mortar bookstore, where you should (and probably can) buy it again.

 

I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter or my eternally embryonic Instagram.

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Prospect Park, 1959

 

The above photo was taken in the autumn of 1959 by the lake in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, near Parkside Avenue, behind the Peristyle, or Greek Shelter, as it's more commonly known. I'm 7 years old and my father, Irwin Rosen, is 36. The excerpt from Bobby in Naziland in the caption comes from a scene in chapter one, where a gang of teenagers steals my new fishing rod. That took place two years later, in the summer of 1961.

 

The fishing pole I'm holding in the photo is a toy; the one I'd receive for my birthday was real. The fishing spot I describe in the book is the peninsula jutting out in the background.

 

I didn't have this photo when I was writing Bobby in Naziland. I wish I had. There are a lot of memory-jogging things going on here that you can see better if you enlarge it. On the collar of my favorite jacket (I'd forgotten about the jacket) there are two disks, authentic U.S. Army pins. One shows two crossed rifles, the infantry symbol; the other says "U.S." My uncle gave me the pins, too, as well as a pair of captain's bars that I wore on the shoulders of this jacket, though you can't see them here. Maybe he hadn't given them to me yet.

 

My uncle was a private in the peacetime army, happily doing his time between Korea and Vietnam. He was stationed in Germany, at the same time as Elvis, though not in the same unit. Before being shipped overseas, he was posted at Fort Dix, in New Jersey, and would often come to visit when he had a weekend pass. He'd always bring me some kind of trinket that he'd picked up in the PX, like those pins that I loved—because he knew I was fascinated by everything having to do with the military. (I discuss this in the book.)

 

In the "Fragments of My Father" chapter, I write that my father wore "heavy black work boots" in his candy store. This is incorrect. He wore the black ripple-sole shoes he's wearing in the photo. If you look closely you can see the ripple soles.

 

The memory might be unreliable but these photos aren't.

 

You can see other photos from the lost world of Flatbush here, here, and here. There will be more.

________

Bobby in Naziland is available on Amazon and all other online booksellers, as well as at your local brick-and-mortar bookstore, where you really should buy it.

 

I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter or my eternally embryonic Instagram.

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Church Avenue, 1956

 

Here's another photo from a recently unearthed series of photos that show what Brooklyn, Flatbush, members of my family, and I looked like during the period that Bobby in Naziland takes place.

 

In this photo, taken in 1956 or early 1957, I'm about four years old. The cars all appear to be early 1950s models; the one where you can see the grille and license plate is probably a 1952 Oldsmobile. I don't know who took the picture. It could have been my mother, the official family photographer, or it could have been our downstairs neighbor Fred, the owner of the dog, Boxer. That's my father, Irwin Rosen, 33 or 34 at the time, standing behind me.

 

The location is Church Avenue, between East 17th and East 18th Streets. (East 18th Street is in the background.) One of the main settings of Bobby in Naziland, my father's candy store, which he opened in 1948, is down the block, to the left, directly across the street from World Liquors, which in a few years would become Deal Town. Above the liquor store, the sign obscured, is a bowling alley and pool hall. I don't remember Ray's or Bob's. (Click here and here to see photos of this stretch of Church Avenue, taken from different angles, in 1940.)

 

My father and I are standing in front of N.E. Tell's bakery, which isn't visible. It was around this time that I first saw the Auschwitz tattoo on the forearm of a woman who worked in Tell's. I describe that moment in a key scene in the book.

 

I'll post more photos in the coming weeks.

________

Bobby in Naziland is available on Amazon and all other online booksellers, as well as at your local brick-and-mortar bookstore, where you really should buy it.

 

I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter or my eternally embryonic Instagram.

 

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A Certain Type of Father

Bloomsday on Beaver Street is a celebration of many things in the spirit of James Joyce: the U.S. publication of Beaver Street; other works of literature, like Ulysses, that the more close-minded among us have deemed pornographic; the 40th anniversary of the premiere of Deep Throat; and the 40th anniversary of Watergate, which gave rise to that other Deep Throat. (I write about all this in Beaver Street.)

As if that’s not enough to celebrate, this Saturday, June 16, is also the eve of Father’s Day, and Beaver Street is dedicated to my father, Irwin Rosen, who passed away in 2005. I dedicated it to him because I think he would have enjoyed the book, and I explain why in the Prologue, titled “A Kid in a Candy Store.”

My father used to own a candy store on Church Avenue, in Brooklyn, around the corner from where we lived. I spent a lot of time there, working and hanging out, and one of the things I witnessed was the passion that my father and his pals expressed for books like Tropic of Cancer and Last Exit to Brooklyn—so called “dirty books,” many originally banned in the U.S., that he displayed on a special rack in the back of the store. Beaver Street, I think, would have earned a coveted slot in that special rack.

In honor of Father’s Day, the Prologue is one of the two passages I’m going to read Saturday night. And I’d like to suggest that if you have a certain type of father, Beaver Street, now available in paperback and all e-book formats, just might make the ideal Father’s Day gift. If you buy the book at the event, as a bonus you’ll receive absolutely free a copy of Blue Lights, Mary Lyn Maiscott’s CD, which is dedicated to her parents; the title song is about their wartime romance.

So please join us on Beaver Street to celebrate more things than we can keep track of. It’s going to be fun. Read More 
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My Father on Beaver Street

Beaver Street is dedicated to my father, Irwin Rosen, (1923-2005). He would have enjoyed the book. I explain why in the Prologue.

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