Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In America => Topic started by: titoli on June 19, 2013, 09:55:48 AM

Title: Call Me Duke
Post by: titoli on June 19, 2013, 09:55:48 AM

The second Herschel Goldberg's novel is better than the first. At least I read it at a sitting. The book is divided into two parts but strangely, though the second part starts after a 7 year stretch of the protagonist in Sing Sing, they bear the same temporal headline: "1937". (I have read the paperback so they probably made some mistake republishing it). I won't go into the details of the plot, a real pulp story with fast action and the typical telegraphic style we know from The Hoods, action set in mainly Harlem, with some escapade into the Bronx .It may be of interest to those who like the novel and the movie that one character's name is Lawrence Mortimer Goldberg. Also, Noodles enters the scene in the last fifth of the story, looking for the 4 trunks. He dies (killed by some members of the Combination) and the trunks are found by the protagonist but...
Title: Re: Call Me Duke
Post by: titoli on June 20, 2013, 02:21:41 PM
Why not?
Title: Re: Call Me Duke
Post by: chris on June 22, 2013, 04:28:58 AM
Harry Grey wrote all three books in the first person.  

In The Hoods he is Noodles, a Jewish gangster from Manhattan's Lower East Side, in Call Me Duke he is Izzie 'Duke' Romero and in Portrait of a Mobster he is Dutch Schultz.

The Hoods was first published in 1952/3, Call Me Duke in 1955/6 and Portrait of a Mobster in 1958.  The Hoods is about three times thicker than a normal paperback whilst Call Me Duke has 255 pages, and Portrait of a Mobster 158 pages.  In Call Me Duke and Portrait of a Mobster, the action heads north towards Harlem and The Bronx.  College Avenue, in which Harry Grey lived for several years, is mentioned in Portrait of a Mobster.  The Hoods has sold most copies and the later books have some erotic passages in them.

Call Me Duke starts in the 1930s with 18 year old Duke walking along 125th Street, Harlem.  Duke has a big nose and wants to be a private detective.  He hangs about with his friends, Peanuts and a Spanish speaking Luis Gonzales, and they commit some crimes, mostly theft and robbery.  Duke injures his nose trying to steal parcels from a passing package express truck.  He has plastic surgery on his nose, meets a woman called Mrs Fuchs and his success rate with women improves.

Eventually Duke gets caught on a job, shoots at police officers and is sent down for five to ten at Sing Sing - hard labor.  Seven years later he gets out of prison, meets up with his friends in Harlem and gets a job with a private detective agency.  The agency receives a request to trace four trunks which were shipped from Delancey Street to a warehouse.  The person making the request is called Eve McLain (a living breathing doll) and she lives in a small brick bungalow on West 229th Street in the Woodlawn section of The Bronx with some guy called Noodles.

An old guy at the agency has heard of Noodles: "An East Side hood.  A Big shot.  A Hebe like yourself, Duke.  A killer handy with the shiv.  Lousy with dough.  They made plenty.  From all sides.  He and his three partners.  Cockeye Hymie, Big Maxie, and Patsy.  They got killed.  Protecting a load of booze from prohibition agents.  It was in all the papers.  They were part of a combination."

Duke finds the location of the trunks, Trigger and Mendy turn up and Noodles dies dramatically with a shiv in his hand, smiling weakly and saying "I need it where I'm goin'."...

Title: Re: Call Me Duke
Post by: titoli on June 22, 2013, 05:09:32 AM
So this time you read it through. Good.