The Ballad of West Tenth Streeth


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5 out of 5

Full of lower Manhattan's eccentricities, this captivating debut peeks in on the family of a late rock icon, Ree Hollander, in its West 10th Street townhouse. His widow, Sadie, met the rocker after ditching college for a less conventional education in swinging London. A doting mother, Sadie is a dedicated drinker, whose thirst for vodka has grown since her eldest, Gretchen—the only child old enough to know Ree before he overdosed at 39—checked into a Connecticut mental institution for self-mutilation. The adolescents, Ondine and Hamish, eschew public school for lessons from their bohemian neighbors. Also afloat in this quirky sea are London-based Brian, Rees best friend and bandmate whos lusted after Sadie since Rees death 12 years ago, and Capn Meat, a genteel bum and Vietnam vet who guards the children from less savory street characters. When a near-fatal motorcycle accident sends Sadie back to London, this unlikely circle tightens around the Hollander kids. Blending a local's familiarity with a first-timer's awe, Keenans portrait of Manhattan is vividly drawn, an insightful illustration of how a string of city blocks can feel like home.


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