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Object: Matrimony

December 12, 2011

Object: Matrimony isn’t really long enough for a review, but I do want to point people towards it, because it’s adorable. So, instead of a review, here’s a very brief excerpt:

“After all, Margolius,” Feigenbaum commented as he lit an all-tobacco cigarette on their way down the front stoop of the Goldblatt residence—”after all, she ain’t such a bad-looking woman. I seen it lots worser, Margolius.”

“That’s nothing what we got it this evening,” Philip said as they started off for the subway; “you should taste the Kreploch what that girl makes it.”

“I’m going to,” Feigenbaum said; “they asked me I should come to dinner to-morrow night.”

But Philip knew from his own experience that the glamour engendered of Fannie’s gefüllte Fische would soon be dispelled, and then Henry Feigenbaum would hie him to the northern-tier counties of Pennsylvania, leaving Philip’s love affair in worse condition than before.

Philip is the protagonist, who’s got a bit of a Taming of the Shrew situation on his hands, and is trying to set his friend Feigenbaum up with Fannie Goldblatt so that he can marry her sister Birdie. Fannie’s temper isn’t a problem — she’s just really unattractive. But her cooking maybe makes up for it.

The draw here isn’t the story, but the turn of the century New York Jewish characters. It’s the speech patterns and the bits of Yiddish that had me passing my kindle down our row of airplane seats and making my mother and brother read the good bits.

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4 comments

  1. Hmmm “an all-tobacco cigarette”? As opposed to? I wonder what the options were back then.


    • According to the National Cigar Museum, ‘ “All tobacco cigarette” is a euphemism for small cigar first uttered in the 1880’s and still going strong in 1938.’


  2. Thanks for bringing this story to my attention! I found it to be excellent reading and the scenes were so easy to visualize after seeing so many inner city Shorpy photos from that website for that time period. I went ahead and downloaded all of the author’s remaining free books in the Kindle store.

    One thing I found quite interesting was the inclusion of an exact date on the marriage licence. I don’t think I have ever seen an exact date in fiction books written that time period or before outside historical fiction. Usually what you would read is something like May 12, 18– or 189-, with the dash mark for the unspecified year of the story. You get the same deal sometimes even with names in fiction works especially with letters inside the text such as “S– tells me that he plans to meet you at hotel J– on the 24th.”

    I wonder if that was an attempt to be polite and get the reader to feel the events of the book could have happened yesterday to a person you know and a place you know regardless of the time you purchased the book? Today it dates a book immediately since no one writes like that now.

    James


    • Glad you enjoyed it! You’ll have to let me know how the other books are.

      I do think I’ve seen other exact dates in books from this era, but not many. I think you’re probably right about authors wanting things to seem more immediate. Probably also not having a specific date allows an author not to worry about actual things that happened — weather, big news stories, etc. But I always enjoy seeing specific dates.



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