P.F. Kluge’s writing has come a long way from the 1972 Brooklyn bank robbery he wrote about for Life magazine; his article called The Boys in the Bank became the inspiration for the Oscar-winning 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon. His new book, The Master Blaster, is set on the other side of the world.
The book begins as four newcomers land in Saipan, the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, about 120 miles from Guam. Now a U.S. Commonwealth, Saipan is a beautiful tropical island with a troubling war history and dubious labor practices.
Stephanie, an ambitious teacher looking for a new start after the breakup of her marriage, arrives with George Griffin, a disenchanted travel writer, and Mel Brodie, whose history of real-estate investments has caused “talk of subpoenas” back in the States. Also on the flight is Khan, a Bangladeshi who has been promised work, but who ends up enslaved and must find his way to freedom.
The “Master Blaster” is the operator of a bitterly critical blog (based on a real site) that calls Saipan “America’s biggest welfare client.” The revelation of the blogger’s identity is a book-dropping stunner. The Master Blaster is a biting satire of corruption in a torrid zone.
The Master Blaster (302 pages, hardcover) costs $26.95 from Overlook Press. Kluge is writer in residence at Kenyon College in Gambier. His other books include Eddie and the Cruisers.
‘An Integrated Boyhood’
Phillip M. Richards gives a singular perspective of middle-class life in the 1950s and 1960s in his memoir An Integrated Boyhood: Coming of Age in White Cleveland. Although Richards has the academic success to gain a scholarship to the prestigious University School in Hunting Valley, and then to Yale, he calls his book a “trail of errors.”
Richards describes his parents as integrationists who continued to move from neighborhood to neighborhood, who “responded to the expansion of Cleveland’s ghetto culture with distress bordering on hysteria.” As a result, the young Richards spent his time at music lessons and studying French, having little contact with his peers.
Discovering his intellectual ability at the same time “the anger of young black people in inner-city Cleveland … began to manifest itself in violence,” Richards returned from a Michigan summer camp, where the students studied a play by Sophocles, to the civil unrest that two years later would explode in Hough. Did his parents help him or hinder him by their choices?
An Integrated Boyhood (132 pages, hardcover) costs $29.95 from Kent State University Press. Richards is an English professor at Colgate University.
A photographic history
Among the photos reproduced in Through the Lens of Allen E. Cole: A Photographic History of African Americans in Cleveland, Ohio, is a 1935 picture of Jesse Owens, in the crisp uniform and peaked hat of a Sohio gas station employee, and his boss, Alonzo Wright, described as “the first African-American millionaire in Cleveland.” The two men face each other: Owens folds his hands in front of him, looking respectfully at his boss; Wright has a casual stance, one hand in his pocket.
Cole worked as a photographer on Cedar Avenue in Cleveland from 1924 almost until his death in 1970. His portraits show changing hair and fashion styles, and he also worked with civic and fraternal groups. One startling 1933 picture shows a man in white ritual garb being initiated into a secret society, seated near an open casket.
Cole and his wife left no heirs, and their huge collection of photos and negatives went unclaimed for several years until acquired by the Western Reserve Historical Society. Samuel E. Black, the collection’s former curator, and Regennia N. Williams, associate professor of history at Cleveland State University, provide the commentary. Through the Lens of Allen E. Cole (132 pages, hardcover) costs $49 from Kent State University Press.
Stark County District Library (Plain Community branch, 1803 Schneider St. NE) — Christopher Rudy and George Davis, authors of The Last Victim, talk about the Hartville man who raped women in Northeast Ohio and other states in the 1980s, 2 p.m. Monday.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Fairlawn-Bath branch, 3101 Smith Road) — Jeff Iula discusses and signs How I Saw It: My Photographic Memory of the Soap Box Derby, 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Massillon Library (208 Lincoln Way E.) — Christopher Rudy and George Davis sign The Last Victim, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Ohio Theatre (PlayhouseSquare, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland) — Irish journalist and novelist Colm Tolbin (The Master, Brooklyn) closes out the Writers Center Stage program to benefit the Cuyahoga County Public Library, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. $30; call 216-749-9388.
Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights) — E. Henry Schoenberger signs How We Got Swindled by Wall Street Godfathers, Greed, & Financial Darwinism: The 30-Year War Against the American Dream, 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers (28801 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere) — Shaker Heights activist and author Loung Ung signs Lulu in the Sky: A Daughter of Cambodia Finds Love, Healing, and Double Happiness, 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — Teacher Shalana Satterwhite and Highland Hills police Chief Antonio Stitt present Change the Parent, Change the Child, a book about parenting, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
— Barbara McIntyre
Special to the Beacon Journal
Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.