dark street notes

In Edward Adler’s Notes From a Dark Street the materials of common contemporary existence on the Lower East Side – circa late 1950′s- have been ordered and transmuted into a terrible cosmography far transcending its naturalistic events. The novel’s aesthetic is as consciously propounded as, and not dissimilar to, those of a Nathaniel West or a Flaubert. It is a hopeless but imperative involvement in the face of life’s debasement and ultimate dissolution. A dead end where salvation is discarded and redemption a vague echo at the heart of a creed of pessimism punctuated by rare and unpredictable flashes hope, dangling straws floating with the structure of myth that has been degraded by burlesque, hidden allusion and parody.

---Roth's gritty modernist novel about a young Jewish immigrant growing up in the slums of the Lower East Side during the depression, Call It Sleep, was published in 1934 and achieved popular status when it was republished 30 years later.--- Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/nov/06/henry-roth-american-type-review

( see link at end) …At the same time, Gellen struck out in search of new talent. Among her discoveries were Ed De Blasio and Edward Adler, each of whom had just published a first novel rich in the sort of socially-conscious urban realism that was to characterize East Side / West Side….

Gellen’s other important discovery was Edward Adler, a struggling novelist who had just published his first book (Notes From a Dark Street), to widespread critical acclaim, and who had begun to write for The Nurses. Adler recalled, “The producer arranged for a meeting, I met with him, and he said, ‘Well, have you ever written for television before?’” I said, ‘No, I just been in fiction all my life.’ He said, ‘Well, can we corrupt you? You want to get rich very quickly?’ I said, ‘I’m your man.’” Read More:http://www.classictvhistory.com/EpisodeGuides/east_side_west_side.html

Helen Levitt. Read More:http://art.findartinfo.com/art.asp?i=4&p=176&old=1

Or as one of the characters says in the book, rather explicitly, ” The City ids full of a hidden death which forces a stand on the issue of living.” The book was less than a commercial success, but more a measure of the force generated by it as an entire spectrum of critical reaction, that could range from literary find of the year  to the more unsettling aesthetic criticism of sordid or fractured or disjointed; in effect Adler was like Fellini, in that these stories have no real end or conclusion, the just continually morph and mutate, blending into the urban landscape, lost like a message in a bottle. Adler’s novel was a metaphor utterly appropriate for the time and our time as well if you strip away the plastic and shine of our pop culture.

…From The Nurses, Adler moved on to East Side / West Side. His first script, “Not Bad For Openers,” concerned a cab driver addicted to gambling and drew heavily on the writer’s own experiences: Adler had driven a taxi to support himself while struggling to get his work published. In spite of his other professional credentials, the press focused on Adler’s proletarian background, to the extent that TV Guide twice noted East Side was being penned by a “cab driver turned writer.”

“The whole thing was idiotic,” Adler recalled. “Life sends a crew down to do a story on me. The took me down and posed me on top of a fucking Checker Cab, with a portable typewriter on my lap. What can I tell you, it was my fifteen minutes.” Adler became one of the series’ most important writers, contributing three originals and some uncredited rewrites of scripts by others. Read More:http://www.classictvhistory.com/EpisodeGuides/east_side_west_side.html

Television writing seemed to replace Adler’s work on a second novel which was supposed to carry forward in other characters and with other metaphors. His thesis of the dying city society may even have been ahead of its time. Just as Balzac saw himself as the secretary of French society, Adler wanted to be, in all modesty, the secretary of his own, by doing the same thing allegorically.

There is a conflict between the apparent conflict, the interplay between the melancholy and the mourning qualities of his work and a certain intrinsic optimism, a kind of fruitful manner of conducting one’s life which portends the creation of certain paradoxes, pockets of “in-between” spaces that beckon and invite into an even more profound and infinite world, swept clean of the more wispy poets like T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost, a kind of flickering light of a midnight fatigued, half depleted Talmudist, poring over a re-write of ancient words, unearthed from some forgotten tunnel in the Samarian hills:

“Were all the sky parchment, and all our waters ink; were all of nature’s reeds turned into

ting implements, and I had eternity to record my understanding, I would record nothing if I did not understand that I was born for social and gregarious fullness, with wife and children and work genuinely of this real world; to earn my portion of peace and to cast a significance upon my existence which was otherwise starved and trivial.” ( Edward Adler)

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