Author Interview: The Bookie’s Son by Andrew Goldstein (plus giveaway)

Welcome to Author Andrew Goldstein

In my early twenties I was selected as a Bread Loaf Fellow and had my nonfiction book, Becoming:An American Odyssey published by Saturday Review Press. However, in order to make a living while writing I worked at many diverse jobs: tree planter and assistant librarian in Oregon, organic orange and olive farmer in California, school bus driver, Zamboni driver, editor, stock broker, power transformer tube winder and tennis pro in the Berkshires, and custom builder in the Boston area. I’m slowly transitioning out of construction and becoming a full-time writer. I play competitive table tennis three times a week, mentor a ten-year old boy every other week, and take care of my grandson one day a week. He fills that day with joy.
I grew up in a world that no longer exists: The Bronx 1947-1960.  The Bookie’s Son, based on my childhood, was the story I wanted to tell. I have been writing The Bookie’s Son on and off for forty years.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

Stone ground oatmeal with cinnamon, cranberries, raisins, walnuts, pecans and a little whole milk
Skittles or M&Ms?   

M&Ms all the way.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Most people who read The Bookie’s Son love it because it is suspenseful, funny and entertaining.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?

I’m writing another novel right now and after that I might write either a novel or nonfiction book about building dream houses.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?

In junior high school I started writing humorous articles for the school paper and the other kids liked them––and I liked the attention.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

Not all readers, but some readers really love the story and let me know and that makes me feel good.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Don’t give up.  I was lucky to have a book published when I was 25 years old. Then I struggled with rejection after rejection. I started writing The Bookie’s Son forty years ago and worked on it on and off over the decades, finally finding a publisher willing to take a chance on a young author, okay not so young anymore, but I was young when I started writing it.

What is your favorite Quote?

Whatever the unborn and dead may know, they cannot know the beauty, the marvel of being alive in the flesh. The dead may look after the afterwards. But the magnificent here and now of life in the flesh is ours, and ours alone, and ours only for a time. We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos.

                                                                            D.H. Lawrence

Hidden talent?

I don’t mean to brag but I am excellent at counting jellybeans in a jar or coins in a jar or rugs in a carpet store or any contest like that. It’s not really fair to the other competitors (mostly children) to allow win to enter, but I like winning. 

If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be?

Dark chocolate Dove bars with vanilla ice-cream. They weaken me.  Luckily they keep getting small every year.  In ten years they should be about the size of a quarter and their power will be reduced.

What do you do in your free time? 

I play competitive table tennis (Pingpong).  I took it up two and a half years ago and I love it. ATTENTION WOMEN: More than any other ball sport, the disparity between Men and women is exceptionally infinitesimal. Men’s superior strength and speed are marginalized by the size of the playing area and the weight of the ball.  Reflexes, coordination, concentration, strategy––all things pretty equal among the sexes––are key components to improving.

Favorite music?

I like to dance so my taste is pretty eclectic.  Anything with a beat I can dance to is fun from Salsa to rock to blues to World music to show tunes.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Because I am capable of being animated and funny, most people think I am outgoing, but In truth I am very shy. I was always the one at junior high and high school parties  sitting in the corner eating M&Ms and watching the revelers, only engaging when someone I knew came over. It’s nice to think that I have matured, but essentially I’m still that corner guy enjoying the M&Ms melting in my mouth. 

The Bookie’s Son

In 1960, as a way to pay off some of his debt, the bookie, Harry Davis, starts collecting loan payments for the Bronx gangster, Nathan Glucksman.  Making his rounds, Harry visits a sweet tailor named Morris, who is a survivor of the Holocaust.  Whether out of pity, or because Harry was one of the liberators of the camps during World War II, or because he is prone to rash decisions, instead of collecting from Morris he gives him some of Nathan’s money so that he can move to Israel.  Nathan’s henchmen, the Spratz brothers, come looking for Harry, who is forced to escape and leave his bookie business in the hands of his twelve-year-old son, Ricky, and his almost deaf and nearly blind mother-in-law, Rosie.
The Spratz brothers ransack the apartment and threaten not only to harm to Harry, but also Ricky’s mother, Pearl.  Ricky, who is his mother’s confidant and emotional crutch, takes it on himself to raise the money and rescue his family.  He dreams of being the hero.  Like the rest of the Davis family—the best family in the Bronx—he believes he is an extraordinary person trapped in an ordinary life.
He embarks on a series of failed attempts to obtain money, which he needs to bet on a fixed horse race.  He ends up stealing cash from his father’s drawer—money that his father was saving to make a payment to Nathan—and then rides in a stolen car to Aqueduct to place his bet.
Meanwhile, other members of the family, in their own shady ways, are trying to acquire cash so they can appease Nathan.  Harry is working on smuggling tax free cigarettes from North Carolina and Pearl is planning to embezzle money from Elizabeth Taylor, a client of her boss.
Each member of the family is broken and needs fixing.  Though they are all unscrupulous, they are filled with love and loyalty. Fast paced, engrossing and full of heart, The Bookie’s Son paints a picture of a family forced to decide just how much they’re willing to sacrifice for each other––and at what cost.

Giveaway Details
1 copy of The Bookie’s Son
Ends 10/16/12

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