San Remo Drive: A Novel from Memory

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Handsel Books, 2003 - Fiction - 238 pages
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Leslie Epstein's new novel is composed of five interrelated episodes, in each of which a germ of childhood experience is elaborated by the mature imagination of one of this country's most distinguished writers of fiction. Richard Jacobi, the narrator of these reflections, invites us to revisit the crucial experiences of his youth: driving to Malibu to meet the man determined to marry his mother; on vacation in the Mohave, while his father, the famed Hollywood figure Norman Jacobi and Lotte, his mother, must deal with the terrible consequences of Norman's testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities; exploring how a night in a bar and brothel in Tijuana becomes linked to the spiritual growth of his brother, Bartie, who is surely destined to be one of the most memorable and endearing characters in modern literature; viewing a precarious initiation into sexuality that will mark forever the way an artist sees the world and does his work.
The Jacobi family of the 1950s, however, is only part of this novel. A half-century later, at the new millennium, Richard has moved back to the same great house on San Remo Drive in which he spent his adolescence. Of course he seeks to re-create that past of sunshine and lemon groves and innocence; of 78 rpm records, artistic freedom, and all the "early sorrows and many joys" before his family's tragic dissolution. But perhaps the greater task for the adult Richard is simply to lead a decent life, now that he is a famous painter and the head of a new family that is about to face an inescapable tragedy of its own.
San Remo Drive is a novel of many dimensions. It is a large, public book that explores the glamorous life of Hollywood and evokes the landscape of Southern California both as it is now and as it appeared before the migration to it of millions. It is also a personal book, one that traces the trajectory of Richard Jacobi's consciousness as son, brother, husband, lover, and painter.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Five interrelated tales of a leftist family in Hollywood during the McCarthy years and beyond, from longtime fiction writer Epstein (Ice Fire Water, 1999, etc.).Epstein's father was a well-known ... Read full review

San Remo Drive: a novel from memory

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Epstein (King of the Jews; Ice Fire Water) has previously drawn on his experience as the son of the great screenwriter and blacklist victim, Philip G. Epstein, but as the subtitle suggests, this is ... Read full review



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About the author (2003)

Leslie Epstein

Leslie Epstein, whose father and uncle, Philip G. and Julius J. Epstein, wrote Arsenic and Old Lace, Casablanca, and many other classics of the golden era of films, is the author of nine previous books of fiction, including King of the Jews and San Remo Drive, both published by Handsel Books/Other Press. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, where for many years he has directed the Creative Writing Program at Boston University.

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