The Merry-Go-Round Man
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First Published on May 31 2014
The Merry-Go-Round Man is a novel about three boys growing up in the so-called innocent days of the Eisenhower fifties. It’s about rites of passage, loss of innocence, sexual initiation, racism, and much more . Of the three boys, Johnny Roth is central. He possesses two transcendent gifts which are only beginning to emerge as the novel begins. One of them is the ability to box or fight, something he deeply fears. The other ability is artistic and mystical. He is a natural expressionistic painter of vast potential. Unfortunately, Johnny’s father, an Orthodox Jew, hates both of these pursuits, and his opposition tears Johnny apart.
Of the two other boys, Lee Esner grows up to be a gifted football player with what looks like a lucrative pro career ahead of him. He also has a flair for attracting beautiful girls. Is he the merry-go-round man? The third boy, Jimmy Wiggins, is black and from the ghetto. Attending an elite white school with Johnny and Lee, his naive love for a pretty white girl is destroyed by her cruel racism. Another rite of passage. Symbols such as a burning Buddhist monk make us ask whether anyone is really The Merry-Go-Man in life.
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