Louis will sell you your dreams - he'll ply you with promises while he charms you out of your money, but promises are all you'll get. Those dreams will never come true.
From the black jazz clubs on Central Avenue in Watts, to the tidy homes of the war widows he cons, Louis Greenberg lives life on the outside. No matter how charming and passionate he is, an outsider he will always be. He is white, a Jew, and that never goes away.
It is 1948. An impulsive, irrevocable decision has led to Louis' permanent exile from his family back in New York. Six years later, his father's disappointment still haunts him. Living a fractured, confusing life in Los Angeles, Louis moves between worlds. By day he is a c-man, artfully conning the relatives of men killed in action in World War II out of their cash, preying upon their memories and pain. By night he enters the only world where he is truly alive. In the all-black underground clubs of L.A. he nurtures his passion for bebop, listening to and playing cutting-edge jazz. Here he is still an outsider, but he has won acceptance - to a point. Here, he meets the woman he loves, but can never truly have, in the segregated world of the forties.
As Louis navigates the treacherous waters of jazz and women, passion and cynicism, he will try for one big con to put his troubled life to rights - but the many dissonant threads of past and present will come together, ensnaring him in a web of his own making. Ami Silber's poignant and memorable debut novel has an unforgettable protagonist; Louis will pull you into his world and his voice will stay with you long after his story ends.
Silber's interview on Nextbook for more...
About the Author
Ami Silber is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she received her MFA. She also received an MA in Literature from UC San Diego. She won the Short Story Award for New Writers from Glimmer Train Press and her work has appeared in Glimmer Train Stories. She and her husband live in Los Angeles.
More praise for Early Bright:
"It’s a rare feat of literary prowess not only to create an unappealing
character who is completely sympathetic, but also for a woman to write a
believable man in the first person. Silber achieves both of these
extraordinary results in Early Bright... Silber writes
magnificently...the ultimate tragedy of Greenberg’s life hits the reader like a
punch in the gut. Early Bright beguiles with its mastery of language and
drama and is highly recommended."
- Historical Novels Review,
"Silber has taken on a huge challenge in recreating the
contradictions of postwar Los Angeles and has pulled it off with aplomb. It is
all there - expanding, raging, corrupting - on every page of this novel and
Louis is an unforgettable protagonist, his tale told in a wonderful mixture of
con slang, jazz patois and
Jewish New York, creating a tough-talking,
sentimental and manipulative anti-hero."
- Times Online (UK)
The Critics Praise:
“An astonishing debut and a brilliantly engrossing read.”
- TimesOnline (UK)
"...Jazz aficionados and historical fiction fans alike
will relish Silber's exciting slice of Americana and will probably want to jot down
the titles she cites in the Acknowledgments section for further reading and research. Readers who enjoy gritty, naturalistic fiction will also be pleased by the book, which pulls no punches in its examination of racism, patriotism, and capitalism in America. While not for the faint of heart, Silber's debut definitely stands out from the pack."
- Library Journal
"Its matter-of-fact, close-up storytelling never shouts
its ideas but shows mature confidence and trust in them...unexpectedly moving."
- LA Times