A Novel by Ed Brodow

Front Street Reviews

Women From Venus
Four Short Novels

Fixer - A Novel by Ed Brodow

Review of Fixer by Sara Marcus for Front Street Reviews

Following Harry Leonnoff from his childhood facing anti-Semitism, surviving polio to his life protecting the underdog from political red tape, to his downfall in facing off against Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. A fearless politician, working for over fourteen years as chief clerk of the Marcy Avenue Municipal Court in Brooklyn, New York despite his lack of a high school diploma, Leonnoff was married to a woman nicknamed 'The Commissioner' who forced him to work harder and harder to support her in her desired way of life. Based on the true events of Brodow's grandfather, Harry Wolkof, the work is fictional only in its recreation of events without sufficient data to create a memoir. The reader is led to wonder if the trials faced by Leonnoff in his early years led him to be more cognizant of the less fortunate, particularly immigrants and minorities, or if it was in his nature beforehand, and to fight for their rights. Born in 1883 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Russian-Jewish immigrants, Leonnoff begins his climb in politics as a law clerk and aide to Tammany Hall political leaders. While not involved in the formation, Leonnoff is a critical member of the Harry Leonnoff Association, promoting religious and racial tolerance. Filled with famous names and events, Samuel L. Liebowitz's involvement in the Scottsboro Case, Rick Duvalier, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, Dorsey Hogan, and aliases for famous people such as Willie Malakow (Curly Murphy) for William Kushakow.

The use of years in the chapter titles helps the reader to follow the passage of time between incidents reported, and helps to place the incidents in historical context. Beginning in 1961, Leonnoff's grandson goes to visit his grandfather in the psychological hospital, Bird S. Coler Hospital, the overflow holding for Bellevue in New York City. It is while looking at his grandfather's shrunken, almost-lifeless form that the boy thinks back to the amazing life Harry had led - amazing to others, but not to Harry who wished to live without acknowledgement for what he felt was necessary to do.

The attention to detail, descriptive language, and down-to-earth style brings the reader into the story, rooting for Leonnoff's side throughout, whether arguing for two Jews escaping the Gestapo to remain in the United States, or considering an extramarital affair in New Orleans to escape the horrible marriage he is in.

Written by a prior Hollywood movie actor, Fortune 500 sales executive, and Marine Corps officer, one can tell the true love felt by Brodow for his grandfather, the focus of Fixer. Although some events are drawn in a darker light than might have been seen in the time, these changes are needed in order to bring the reader more into the work - and an explanation is given at the end of the work by the author. Accurate to history, and well-researched, the work is akin to a memoir, although the need to fill in gaps requires the work to be classified as a historical fiction.

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