Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Reading Journal #6

Hello fellow readers!  Welcome to 6th installment of Friday Reading Journal where I give my (sometimes rambling and meandering) thoughts on books I've read recently but am not formally reviewing.

The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman is a book that has been on my to read list for awhile now and it was one I would grudgingly pass up at the library because it is quite a hefty book and at the time I was in the midst of a large stack of review books and didn't have time for a door stopper of a book like this one.  I am glad that I made time because this book was a treat.

The Street Sweeper refers to former convict Lamont Williams, a black man who becomes the unwitting accomplice in a robbery that results in a lengthy prison sentence.  Lamont is released and having been a model prisoner, is chosen as the first person to be hired by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a janitor in order to get back on his feet.  While there he befriends an elderly patient-Henryk Mandelbrot-a holocaust survivor who knows he has little time left and decides to entrust his story to Lamont.

Adam Zignelik is a nontenured history professor at Columbia and it looks like he will soon lose his position.  Not even his friend department chair Charles McCray will be able to help him.  When Charles' father plants the idea in Adam's head to research whether or not black soldiers were among the first to liberate the concentration camps, Adam begins the search which leads him to a small Chicago university and the papers of Dr. Henry Border.  Adam makes a remarkable discovery which leads him in an entirely different direction.

These sound like two separate stories don't they?  That is why I loved this book so much.  It starts off slow-to the point where I kept asking myself repeatedly where it was heading until about 150 pages in.  Then Perlman continues to build on the multitude of characters that we are introduced to (but namely Lamont, Henryk, Adam, and Dr. Border).  I was completely sucked in by the Lamont/Henryk parts of the book because the story he relays to Lamont is absolutely heartbreaking.  The stories of these characters continue to twist and turn and eventually they all tie together but it is quite a ride before they do.  What started as a book I wasn't sure I wanted to continue reading ended up as one I couldn't put down.  Maybe I should snatch up those library books I've been eyeballing more often eh?

This definitely a 4/5 fleur read.

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