A Nickel for the Boatman
Publisher : AuthorHouse
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Miami was roaring in the
1920’s, not only with boat loads of bootleg whiskey and “snow birds” seeking
warmer climes, but also relocated families like Eddie’s who had left
generational homes to forge a new life among Miami’s up and comers. It was a
city of temptation and excitement, of Prohibition and the beginnings of
commercial flight. Eddie, the only child of preoccupied parents, a
social-climbing mother and distant, reticent father, feels trapped under the
thumb of nuns and priests in a strict Catholic school. Then, Manny Silver
appears, and Eddie’s life changes forever. In the hulking, fastidious mobster he
finds a surrogate father and mentor with a soft spot for the teenager. But,
there are difficulties. Eddie is torn between his desire for the adult
pleasures and freedom Manny offers and the straight path defined by the moral
principles of Father Horka, his spiritual guide, who tries to watch over him.
In this place and time where the ordinary, the infamous and the famous meet on
a single stage, Eddie grows up. Set against the backdrop of the most beautiful
and untamed places of the era, Eddie discovers the complexities of friendship,
betrayal, guilt and loss.
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The Story Behind This Book
Carol's inspiration for this novel came from her own experiences and from the rich tales recounted by her father Bob Parker, a Miami pioneer, who witnessed history as it was made during the first half of the twentieth century.
One of the scenes from the book--the birthday party--was key in Bob's childhood. He attended Catholic school with Sonny Capone. Like all Sonny's classmates, each year Bob was invited to the birthday celebration held at the Capone mansion. These were considered elaborate affairs to hold for a child and, of course, what kid doesn't want to go to a birthday party? This put the parents into a social predicament. The stay-at-home mothers of the era were not happy about the implications of sending their children to a gangster's home to be supervised by members of the mob. However, they felt sorry for the child, Sonny. It wasn't his fault that his father was a criminal. Consequently, manners and pity won out and Carol's grandparents sent Bob to the party each time the formal invitation, typical of the period, arrived.
Praise and Reviews
I agree with the first reviewer: Nickel is a must read. It offers a
view of Miami that is long gone except for the pastel fronts of a few
hotels in South Beach. Besides strong descriptions of life in the newly
developing middle class of America, the author uses her descriptive
talents to detail the vivid natural joys of South Florida that have long
since been covered over or destroyed. I think, though, that another
level exists in this first novel. The use of Dante's Inferno mixed with
the strict life of a Catholic schoolboy gives this young teenager the
level of torment needed to create a really good storyline. Each time
Eddie sticks his toe into the pool of perdition, he considers yet
another level of Dante's hell he is probably subject to. Ambition and
money is overshadowed by good Catholic guilt, however, and Eddie must
pay a price ultimately. The flashback style is neither disruptive nor
overused but offers assurance that perhaps Eddie did not cross the river
Charon after all. Overall, the novel creates a mood that pulls the
reader back to a time that was not necessarily the good old days but
certainly is well worth remembering.
Carol Milot was born in Miami, Florida, where she lived until moving to Dallas, Texas, in 1973. She retired from a long career in teaching to devote her time to writing and worki More...