In the book, “Dreamland” (Baker, 2000), the author Kevin Baker tells about Coney Island and the lower eastside of New York City, where there are rough individuals, such as gangsters who roam the area. I liked the main character, Kid Twist is a European immigrant, and he comes to the rescue of an individual when a gangster, by the name of Gyp the Blood is prepared to kill a small boy delivering newspapers in New York City. The sad part of the story was that this gangster wanted to kill this child for fun.
It was strange that the small boy wasn’t really a boy; he was a man. He was Trick the Dwarf; a small midget who only dresses up like a young boy and in behind a hotel, Trick the Dwarf hides Kid Twist and that is where he discovers another character, by the name of Esther Abramowitz who is a poor seamstress. Kid Twist falls in love with this woman This story, which was quite amusing, takes place during the turn-of-the-century and creatively introduces many fascinating characters that make this story so memorable.
There are women who go on strike, which fits in nice with Esther Abramowitz, who is a labor agitator and Trick even tried to seduce Mad Carlotta, who was only three feet tall but he found her to be very attractive, when she said that she was the Empress of Mexico. Esther Abramowitz is rebelling against her Russian-Jewish ex-rabbi parent and she is set on the idea of being a union organizer. Esther Abramowitz seemed like a great leader and one that had a remarkable imagination.
The author is very descriptive with words when he tells us about Freud’s trip to America and about the Triangle Factory Fire in this tale about immigration, and it was interesting to discover the hope that was available in America from many different types of personalities. The author is able to describe various traits in individuals from all sorts of backgrounds in their quest for “Dreamland” which is of course, The United States of America. Big Tim Sullivan was extremely aggressive.
He was the Irish-American State Senator who was a corrupt Tammany Hall boss and he seemed very crooked when he used bribes and many other undesirable ways of gaining what he wanted in order to rule in his position, in New York City. Lazar Abramowitz is Esther’s brother and he tries to have his sister’s boyfriend, who is Kid Twist, murdered by a thug. In “Dreamland”, it seemed like a place to relax and fantasize, which is an amusement park in Coney Island and a place that symbolizes a better and happier place to be.
Trick the Dwarf is in his favorite land, where he is free to be likened unto Romeo with his clever charm and personality, while he continually seeks out the love of a woman to cure his loneliness. “Dreamland” focused on many different ethnic cultures and events and talks about the Jews and the Irish in their pursuit of the all American dream, of finding wealth, success and happiness in a better land in an uncontrollable era that takes place around the year 1910.
There’s a nice touch of comedy in this story that keeps it interesting, while it still is able to tell a story of tragedy. Kid Twist was quite the amusing character who is an enforcer for the gangster, Gyp the Blood and when Kid Twist leaves Gyp the Blood, his boss is wounded from a shovel that leaves him bleeding in a dark basement on the Lower East Side of New York City. Kid Twist had no other choice, I guess, but to flee the area and hide away in the city of Brooklyn, New York with his friend Trick the Dwarf.
I found this story to be interesting but morbid, at times. The characters made me feel sorry for them because some of them just seemed terribly hopeless in their venture at finding the American dream. The author was successful in making me feel thankful for the American dream that I already possess and I did have to sympathize with some of the immigrants from Ireland and other countries in this story, who lived such a rough life, while trying to gain something more in life, including power, love and money, while using murder and corruption as some of their tools.
The story emitted a carnival atmosphere throughout the reading, and it was impossible to determine what new kind of character possessing some kind of personality or appearance flaw, would appear. The bowery bars and opium dens were depressing and it gave me a bad outlook of New York City in that time frame. It made New York City seem like a terribly dangerous place to live.
The story really did come together in the end, and although I was shocked and awed by some of the crazy events that took place in this book, it was never boring or unclear about the meaning behind the story. The author was able to entertain me with his vivid imagination and his insight on a group of diverse people, all coming together in New York City, all looking for something that they needed, like Esther Abramowitz, who fell in love with a gangster and she was able to get something important from a criminal which was someone to love her back.
I feel that this story focused on many different categories, such as economic exploitation, corruption and racism in our society of a mingled mix that makes up the melting pot of our nation. I learned so much about history and Geography from this story as the author described different locations and events that took place in that era of time. I got a better impression of what gangsters were like, back then, as well.
It was hard to believe that so much criminal activity took place in the year 1910. The author was very successful at describing the criminal underworld with the prostitution and gang activity that surrounded the area. This story did prove that people are capable of doing almost anything in able to survive and it was quite clear that most wanted to do live in America, the land of hope and dreams. Reference Page Baker, Kevin. (2000). “Dreamland”. Harper Perennial.