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City Boy (1948)

by Herman Wouk

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2751069,697 (4.05)9
An "enormously entertaining" portrait of "a Bronx Tom Sawyer" (San Francisco Chronicle), City Boy is a sharp and moving novel of boyhood from Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk. A hilarious and often touching tale of an urban kid's adventures and misadventures on the street, in school, in the countryside, always in pursuit of Lucille, a heartless redhead personifying all the girls who torment and fascinate pubescent lads of eleven.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Someone described this as the 1920s Tom Sawyer with a young Jewish boy from Bronx as the protagonist. That's exactly what it is. Yet while Herbie Bookbinder is closer in time to Tom Sawyer than to today's youth (or even my youth), he is a fully modern character. I laughed at loud at times, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Is it great lit? Probably not, perhaps too derivative. But the characters are thoroughly enjoyable and Wouk tells a great story. ( )
  ckadams5 | Jun 19, 2019 |
Someone described this as the 1920s Tom Sawyer with a young Jewish boy from Bronx as the protagonist. That's exactly what it is. Yet while Herbie Bookbinder is closer in time to Tom Sawyer than to today's youth (or even my youth), he is a fully modern character. I laughed at loud at times, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Is it great lit? Probably not, perhaps too derivative. But the characters are thoroughly enjoyable and Wouk tells a great story. ( )
  ckadams5 | Jun 19, 2019 |
Wouk described this early book as inspired by Huckleberry Finn, and it is in a strange way a transference of Huck 'n Tom to Brooklyn in the thirties...really enjoyed this story of a chubby Jewish kid and his city and summer camp adventures... ( )
  jimnicol | Feb 21, 2017 |
Delightful "memoir" of the stereotypical fat bookish boy on his first trip to summer camp, but with a more-happy-than-not ending. Gives a great feel for Jewish NYC in the Twenties. Not as dense or dramatic as his "The Caine Mutiny" but with the same craft and insightfulness.
A good "story with a moral" for younger readers, but enough fun and excitement to keep them interested despite the unfamiliar setting.

Recent review here:
https://jewishreviewofbooks.com/articles/5339/revisiting-herman-wouks-city-boy/ ( )
  librisissimo | Feb 6, 2016 |
Herman Wouk perfectly captures the voice of an eleven-year-old boy, his motivations, and the way he relates to his fellows. The story rings true in the same way that Tom Sawyer did, but with the action shifted to the Bronx, New York, in 1928.

Paramount in this book are the characters, adults and children alike, not to mention the horse, who leap from the page regardless of how long or short a time they spend on it. Herbie's adventures are episodic, but fit together beautifully to form a complete story. Young readers will likely enjoy Herbie's adventures while skimming past the "adult" subplot, but adult readers will appreciate seeing how Herbie's behavior changes and affects the adult world.

There are a few uncomfortable passages for the modern reader that reveal the novel to be very much a product of the late 1940s. These may alienate some readers, but it is important for them to be there lest the same mistakes be forgotten, then repeated.

A thoroughly charming book. ( )
  shabacus | Mar 1, 2014 |
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An "enormously entertaining" portrait of "a Bronx Tom Sawyer" (San Francisco Chronicle), City Boy is a sharp and moving novel of boyhood from Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk. A hilarious and often touching tale of an urban kid's adventures and misadventures on the street, in school, in the countryside, always in pursuit of Lucille, a heartless redhead personifying all the girls who torment and fascinate pubescent lads of eleven.

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