Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz, too.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review, keeps a list of all the books she has read.  She wrote about her list — that goes back to 1988 — in the book review.

I know somebody else who keeps a list.

My list goes back to 1973, Ms. Pam Paul!  (Actually 1971, but I can’t find the 1971-72 portion right now.)

My four literary horsemen of the early 1970s were Kerouac, Saroyan, Thomas Wolfe and Henry Miller.  Plus every beatnik writer.  Every beatnik.  That included Dutch motorcyclist/writer Jan Cremer and Turkish East Village beat Erje Ayden.

Here is my 1974 list, edited:

The First Circle  Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Geronimo Rex  Barry Hannah
Kentucky Ham  William Burroughs Jr.
Confessions of a Child of the Century  Thomas Rogers
Strangers and Brothers  C.P. Snow
The Manor  Isaac Bashevis Singer
Pere Goriot   Honore de Balzac
Tropic of Cancer  Henry Miller
Blue Movie  Terry Southern
Monday the Rabbi Took off   Harry Kemelman
I’m Glad You didn’t Take it Personally  Jim Bouton
Call It Sleep  Henry Roth
My Friend Henry Miller  Alfred Perles
The Wanderers  Richard Price
Imaginary Speeches for a Brazen Head  Philip Whalen
Franny and Zooey  J.D. Salinger
The Boys on the Bus  Timothy Crouse
Nine Stories  J.D. Salinger
The Autograph Hound  John Lahr
Raymond Chandler Speaking  Raymond Chandler
Lolita  Vladimir Nabokov
My Last Two Thousand Years  Herbert Gold
The Slave  Isaac Bashevis Singer


Did you skim or read that list?  If you read it, here’s your reward — a continuation, with asterisks for really funny books. (At the end of the list, there is a prose wrap-up.)   My fav books, generally . . .


Keep the Aspidistra Flying  George Orwell
Burmese Days  George Orwell
Fear of Flying  Erica Jung
A Fan’s Notes  Frederick Exley
The War Against the Jews  Lucy Dawidowicz


Little Big Man  Thomas Berger
Hot to Trot  John Lahr *
The Fight  Norman Mailer
Miss Lonelyhearts  Nathanael West
The World of Our Fathers  Irving Howe
Bloodbrothers  Richard Price
The Rise of David Levinsky  Abraham Cahan
Tales of Beatnik Glory  Ed Sanders
The Idiot  Fyodor Dostoyevsky


While Six Million Died  Lucy Dawidowicz
Thirteenth Tribe  Arthur Koestler
Chrysanthemum and the Sword  Ruth Benedict
The Last Tycoon  F. Scott Fitzgerald
Confessions of a Nearsighted Cannoneer  Seymour Krim


Union Dues  John Sayles
All My Friends are Going to Be Strangers  Larry McMurtry
The Chosen  Chaim Potok
A Feast of Snakes  Harry Crews
The Basketball Diaries  Jim Carroll


The Cool World  Warren Miller
Rabbit Run  John Updike
Airships  Barry Hannah
The Rector of Justin  Louis Auchincloss
Sophie’s Choice  William Styron
King of the Jews  Leslie Epstein


The Pope of Greenwich Village  Vincent Patrick
Dubin’s Lives  Bernard Malamud
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz  Mordecai Richler *
The Right Stuff   Tom Wolfe
Tess of the d’Urbervilles  Thomas Hardy


Jane Eyre  Jane Austin
The House of Mirth  Edith Wharton
Ethnic America  Thomas Sowell


Zuckerman Unbound  Philip Roth
Maiden Rites  Sonia Pilcer  *
The Friends of Eddie Coyle  George V. Higgins


God’s Pocket  Pete Dexter
Rabbis is Rich  John Updike
This Way for the Gas  Tadeusz Borowski
The Abandonment of the Jews  David Wyman
Survival in Auschwitz  Primo Levi


Man’s Search for Meaning  Viktor Frankl
The Headmasters Papers  Richard Hawley
Bright Lights Big City  Jay McInerney
The Art of Fiction  John Gardner
Fathers Playing Catch with Sons  Donald Hall
La Brava  Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard junk mail


Babbitt  Sinclair Lewis
Wiseguy  Nicholas Pileggi
Providence  Geoffrey Wolff


The Sportswriter  Richard Ford
The Great Pretender  James Atlas
Bonfire of the Vanities  Tom Wolfe


Papa Play for Me  Mickey Katz
Life is with People  Mark Zborwski and Elizabeth Herzog
The Facts  Philip Roth
A History of the Jews  Paul Johnson
In Praise of Yiddish  Maurice Samuel


Old New Land  Theodor Herzl
Architects of Yiddishism  Emanuel Goldsmith
From that Place and Time  Lucy Dawidowicz


Paris Trout  Pete Dexter


Patrimony  Philip Roth
Mr. Bridge  Evan Connell


Devil’s Night  Zev Chafets
Rabbit at Rest  John Updike
Rabbit Redux  John Updike


Class  Paul Fussell
Days of Grace  Arthur Ashe


Lost in Translation  Eva Hoffman
How We Die  Sherman Nuland
Roommates  Max Apple


Moo  Jane Smiley
Independence Day  Richard Ford
The Road from Coorain  Jill Kerr Conway


Parts of My Body  Phillip Lopate
American Pastoral  Philip Roth
The Wishbones  Tom Perrotta


Ex-Friends  Norman Podhoretz
Hole in Our Soul  Martha Bayles


The Trouble with Cinderella  Artie Shaw
The Human Stain  Philip Roth
Winning Ugly  Brad Gilbert


Up in the Air  Walter Kirn *


John Adams  David McCullough
Selling Ben Cheever  Ben Cheever  *
The Corrections  Jonathan Franzen
The New Rabbi  Stephen Fried


Samaritan  Richard Price
Funnymen  Ted Heller  *
My Losing Season  Pat Conroy
Fabulous Small Jews  Joseph Epstein
The Case for Israel  Alan Dershowitz


The Da Vinci Code  Dan Brown
Good Vibes  Terry Gibbs


Made in Detroit  Paul Clemens


On Beauty  Zadie Smith
Prisoner of Trebekistan  Bob Harris
High Fidelity  Nick Hornby
Sweet and Low  Rich Cohen


America’s Polka King  Bob Dolgan
Prisoners  Jeffrey Goldberg
Infidel  Ayaan Hirsi Ali


A Random Walk Down Wall Street  Burton Malkiel
Lush Life  Richard Price
Dean’s List  Jon Hassler
Irrational Exuberance  Robert Shiller


Rabbit at Rest  John Updike
How I became a Famous Novelist  Steve Hely *
Facing Unpleasant Facts  George Orwell


The Great Indoors  Eric Broder  *
Pops  Terry Teachout
Olive Kitteridge  Elizabeth Stout


I Feel Bad About My Neck  Nora Ephron
Open  Andre Agassi
How to Win Friends  Dale Carnegie
The Whore of Akron  Scott Raab  *


I Married a Communist  Philip Roth
Pocket Kings  Ted Heller  *


The Love Song of Jonny Valentine  Teddy Wayne *


I bought the Richard Price books for pleasure and investment purposes.  His books are probably worth nothing.  I have followed Price’s career since he was 25.  I knew a woman who dated him at Cornell.  Price is a Lit god around my house.

I like short books.  Most classics are long, so I’m bad at classics.  Funny books are my favorite.  Throw in a few jokes, or lose me.  I don’t need a strong plot.

I’ve read The Great Gatsby five times because it’s great and short.  I would read it more often if it was funny.

I can’t remember most of what I read.

A lot here — in this post — is a rip off of Nick Hornby and his Ten Years in a Tub, about books Hornby has read in the past 10 years.

I haven’t read much philosophy.  Any?  I’ve tried the Bible a few times.  Proust — I’ve done 50 pages with him.  I’m good with Shakespeare!

I haven’t read The Hobbit or War and Peace.  (Check out Buzzfeed’s “22 Books You Pretend You’ve Read but Actually Haven’t.”)

I’ve read many books about Cleveland.  Here are three random CLE books: A Fares of a Cleveland Cabby, Thomas Jasany; Confused City on a Seesaw, Philip W. Porter; and First and Last Seasons, Dan McGraw.  I’ve read all of Harvey Pekar.  Harvey didn’t write much.  Maybe 90,000 words total.   Thanks, Harvey.

I’ve read every klezmer book, I think.  Did you know a Polish academic, Magdalena Waligorska, cited this blog in her book Klemzer’s Afterlife (Oxford University Press)?

My wife occasionally takes my literary recommendations to her book club.  But not lately.  She recommended How I Became a Famous Novelist by Hely. That ruined my wife’s credibility.

If you read a book on this list, pick one with an asterisk.  And if you don’t think the book is funny, bail immediately.

I’m bailing.  Gotta list something.  What, I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll tally the people who liked this post vs. those who thought it was too self-indulgent.

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1 Mark Schilling { 03.05.14 at 9:51 am }

Man, this brings back memories. I’m surprised Bukowski isn’t on the list, unless you consider him “Beat.” That also goes for the poets you were reading then, starting with Hall and Berrigan.

I never kept reading lists, though there was a heck of a lot of overlap between yours and mine in the 1970s, especially.

I got you into Miller, you got me into Kerouac. Even steven…

2 Bert Stratton { 03.05.14 at 9:59 am }

To Mark Schilling:

I had to cut some guys (to save bandwidth). Sorry about Buko. He was beat if ever there was a beat, even though he would have denied it.

Yes, Ted Berrigan should be there too, on the list. I already did a post about him, though.

3 Bill Jones { 03.05.14 at 10:34 am }

Thanks, Bert. Great page in your blogging history. Your sense of humor is showing. Talking about humor, combined with craziness and mystery, try Where’d you go Bernadette by Semple. Appeals to me as the Northwest’s, and contemporary version of, Catcher in the Rye. Now my sense of humor is showing.

4 David Korn { 03.05.14 at 11:10 am }

Reading the list brings back memories — of the books on the list I have read and loved — and regret that I haven’t kept a list too. I could turn this “like” post into a competition (things I read that you didn’t), but that would really be self-indulgent (and stupid). Instead: (1) My thanks for remembering a great book, one on my tops list, Fred Exley’s A Fan’s Notes, and also the less-renown works of George Orwell. (Down and Out is my fav.) (2) Dan Brown? DaVinci Code?! You kiddin?! (3) Thanks for reminding us of the pleasures of the entirety of the Rabbit series.

btw, Rabbis is Rich (your ’84 list) might be a typo or a really good title for your next novel.

5 Jessica Schreiber { 03.05.14 at 11:20 am }

Great post, Bert. I love seeing what other people read. Of the 22 books people pretend to have read, I actually read 19 of them. The three I missed were The Odyssey, Treasure Island and Old Man and the Sea (though I read my children’s high school essays on it).

For anyone who has not read Lolita, I highly recommend the recorded version read by actor Jeremy Irons.

6 Bert Stratton { 03.05.14 at 12:08 pm }

To David Korn:

Normally I would correct my typo(s) after a reader, like you, points them out. But Rabbis is Rich deserves to stay. Thanks for pointing it out!

7 alice { 03.05.14 at 9:30 pm }

I’ve got three 5th grade boys in a book club. I’m suppose to turn them into “pleasure readers.” We’re reading There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom. I became a “pleasure reader” in 3rd-5th grade from Charlotte’s Web, Secret Garden, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, Incredible Journey. I was blown away by Catcher in the Rye in 10th grade. How about a list of books that makes people “pleasure readers”?

8 Mark Schilling { 03.06.14 at 12:56 am }

Good idea, Alice! I was a history buff from the 4th grade or so, devouring books on the boyhoods of famous men (Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, ), as well as on the Civil War (this was the era of the CW centennial). My first “classics” were Jules Verne, Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer before Huckleberry Finn) and Edgar Allan Poe, though I also read crappy boys’ adventure stuff, including the “new” Tom Swift books.

The only comics that appealed to me were by Disney, especially “Uncle Scrooge” and “Donald Duck,” which I found out much later were the creations of the incomparable Carl Barks. I fantasized about diving into Scrooge’s money pit. That was pleasure reading!

9 Bert Stratton { 03.06.14 at 7:28 am }

To Alice:

I didn’t read much for pleasure as a kid. I had to read 10, or so, books a summer for the library library list. Painful. I gravitated toward Herbert’s Homework and Henry Reed Inc and sports bios.

The first adult book that blew me away was Dharma Bums by Kerouac. I was 20. Then I became a true pleasure reader.

10 Norm Green { 03.06.14 at 9:16 am }

Do you know much about Sonia Pilcer? My late grandmother (who was a Green by the time she came to Cleveland) was born a Pilcer.

11 Bert Stratton { 03.06.14 at 11:53 am }

To Norm Green:

I don’t know much about Sonia Pilcer. She’s still around and findable. I remember her parents were from Europe and she lived in New York. She wrote other books, but Maiden Rites is her best.

No, wait, I’m apparently a FB pal of hers. I have her phone number. Whoa. She lives in NY.

12 David Korn { 03.12.14 at 10:04 am }

What hooked me as a pleasure reader when I was a kid: I had this Indiana Jones picture in my mind when I was a kid, so much so that when I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark (when all growed up) it really resonated. The book I remember was some pulp called the Aztec Idol Mystery. I remember almost nothing about it, but I cannot ever forget how much I loved it. The best kids series was — still is, I think — Freddie the Pig. Freddie the Pig and the Baseball Team from Mars! Great title! Great read, still!

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