April 04, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Responsible Men

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Edward Schwarzschild
publisher
Algonquin Books
genre
Fiction
We gave it an A-

Early in Edward Schwarzschild’s marvelous debut novel, Max Wolinsky issues a warning: “Let the buyer beware.” But it’s impossible to avoid falling for Max, even if he is a small-time con running a real estate scheme aimed at gullible geriatrics. That’s how appealingly the author has designed our hero, not to mention his cohorts: dad Caleb, a Willy Loman-like salesman relegated to the role of caretaker for his stroke-ridden brother; uncle Abe, who spends his speech-impaired days dreaming of gleaming power scooters; and son Nathan, a kosher Boy Scout who’s about to get his first kiss from a girl who smells of spearmint. Technically, the just-bar-mitzvahed Nathan is the one becoming a man. What no one expects — least of all Max — is that his father will join him on that journey.

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