The Merry-Go-Round Man, Crossroad Press, an e-book authored and copyright in 2014 John B. Rosenman.
The reader is introduced to three interestingly different protagonists who are close grade school friends growing up in the 1950’s. Johnny is relatively large for his age, appearing soft but with huge hands that seemingly are not suited to his desire to draw, but an activity for which he appears to be quite adept. Jimmy is an agile young black, son of a one-time #5 ranked heavyweight boxer. Lee exhibits all of the qualities of an athlete. Johnny’s father is a frustrated rabbinical scholar who found it necessary to enter real estate to support his family. Thus, he demands that his son concentrate upon becoming a Rabbi. Jimmy’s father, suffered an unexpected and devastating defeat after which he descended into drinking and little productive activity. Lee’s father left at a very early age with never an explanation from his mother. The actual plot begins when the three compete to see who can get to the top of the school yard’s merry-go-round with the stated prize being the one who succeeds is the person who will be the top achiever. There follows specific details of the lives of the three as they mature. Johnny is disowned by his father and with Jimmy’s father as manager, becomes a Golden Gloves Finalist only to kill his opponent in the finals. Tremendously shaken, he bounces around in odd jobs including finally doing portraits as a member of a travelling Carnival. Jimmy, against his better judgement, is ‘talked into’ attempting to rob a local merchant. It fails, he runs and is caught by a ricocheting slug from police, ending in a coma in the hospital. Lee becomes the school’s star end, a ‘ladies’ man, with numerous offers from colleges, but an ultimate jolt to his beliefs and chosen way of life. Finally, the three again meet with a return to their original neighborhood and the thought is set forth that each might find a path that may lead to an acceptable stop for their personal merry-go-round.
The author has presented characters with enough ‘fleshing-out’ to be most appealing in situations with resulting activities that evoke many considerations not the least of these is that every man has his burdens. To quote the author: “Maybe you’re right. Maybe there are no easy answers and we all pay a price, one way or another.” AND thus: The merry-go-round goes round and round. Where it stops, nobody knows.
5* An enjoyable novel that stimulates engrossing contemplation.