In the Foreword to his The Collected Short Fiction Bruce Jay Friedman wrote: “In her late years, my mother confessed to me that she had dropped me on my head when I was two. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to believe that her presumably innocent mistake resulted in the ’tilted’ quality I’ve been accused of having in my work.” We can now add to the stories in The Collected Short Fiction the splendidly tilted fictions in Three Balconies, vintage Friedman all. In these stories you’ll meet Jacob, whose hysterical terror of a self-made playground demon comes back to haunt him in an entirely unforeseen way, and Alexander Kahn, a failed novelist turned journalist who discovers camaraderie and fantastic vegetables on a visit to a prison. You’ll also meet Hatcher, a moral man who lacks a moral follow-through. Perhaps Friedman’s most famous literary creation, Harry Towns, is back in three new stories where he encounters dubious admiration from an opportunistic past love, dabbles in minor speaking roles, contemplates the morbid functions of balconies, and faces the ongoing problem of how to maintain one’s dignity in Hollywood. And the title character of the novella, “The Great Beau LeVyne” is perhaps the most memorable and inscrutable of Friedman’s characters to date. In sumptuously simple language, the language of the street, the bar, the store, the office, Friedman gives us a collection of moral fables that explores friendship and failure unswervingly, yet with compassion and, as always, tremendous humour.
“Bruce Jay Friedman’s razor-sharp wit and keen observation of the genus American male (from the 1950s to the present) have the power to make men laugh and women weep.”—Boston Globe
“Friedman “is in something of a dark mood. Which isn’t to say that he’s stopped being funny, only that we still have to point out that darkness and comedy are not a contradiction.”—New York Times
“Friedman’s stories are fractured tales full of failed writers, playwrights, and producers. His sharp language and ironic metaphors make them well worth reading.”—Jewish Book Council