MEATPACKING: A Novel
Meatpackers tells the story of a woman named Max and her daughter Salome as they navigate life throughout the various decades. Living in a small loft of a hardware store in the meatpacking district of New York, Max and Salome make do with what they have which is not much. The loft, however, has character and is covered with de Kooning and other impressionist paintings. A very drunk Jackson Pollock also makes an appearance in this book and decides to paint one of the loft walls. Mr. Zwerling, the owner of the hardware store, and his mute helper Emmett do their best to help Max and Salome. They help fix up the loft and do odd jobs for the girls including babysitting Salome when she is little.
The book chronicles historical events such as World War I and the dilapidation of the neighborhood Max and Salome live in. Max skips from job to job working in a department store, a restaurant, and a club where she is a cigarette girl. Max’s true aspiration is to be a writer, however, and she ends up writing some articles for the New York Post. Unfortunately, Salome does not do well in school and ends up not finishing as she is deemed slow. This is to her detriment as her skill set is very limited as an adult and it is difficult for her to keep a job. Her repeated mistakes at her job make it so her coworkers do not like her and Salome can do nothing but go home and be sad about it.
I really enjoyed Max and Salome’s story as it was both sad and humbling to hear about two women who never really had a chance in life. The book skipped years and is not in chronological order. This made the story a bit hard to follow and to really know the age of the characters because it covers so many decades from the 1930s to 2005. The characters in this book were colorful and likable. The gentleness of Emmett and his sad ending broke my heart and Mr. Zwerling was such a kind-hearted man. The simplicity of life back then was so different from the busy lives of today. The descriptions of the neighborhoods, the small shops and restaurants, and the quality of life of the people during the 40s and 50s are well-written and I felt as if I was sharing Max and Salome’s experiences with them. This is a beautiful story perfect for fans of historical fiction.
|Page Count||212 pages|
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