A new novel takes readers on an nostalgia trip to a bygone Bronx.
Paul Thaler, formerly of West Tremont before moving to Riverdale 25 years ago, is the author of the critically acclaimed non-fiction books, ‘The Spectacle: Media and the Making of the OJ Simpson Story’ and ‘The Watchful Eye: American Justice in the Age of the Television Trial.’
As a former journalist and media commentator for many national publications and network programs including CBS News, CNN, HBO Documentaries and MSNBC, Thaler has now found success with his first-ever novel, ‘Bronxland.’
Set in the early 1960s, the semi-autobiographical novel follows 13-year-old Paul Wolfenthal’s life growing up in the Bronx featuring historical events and figures of the era.
While dealing with sadistic bullies, falling in lust with his beautiful Marilyn Monroe-like teacher and losing the love of his young life to his competition, Wolfenthal finds solace in his heroes which include his dad, his elder brother Fred, his teacher Mr. P. and the legendary John F. Kennedy and Harry Houdini.
The adventurous teen tours the Bronx on his red Schwinn bike visiting such iconic locales as the Grand Concourse and Tremont, Yankee Stadium, Alexander’s Department Store, the Loew’s Paradise Theatre and JFK’s early childhood home in Riverdale in his pursuit of finding the good in an often grim world.
The reader experiences Wolfenthal’s daily life set to the backdrop of the Cold War, an abduction of a neighborhood child and JFK’s assassination.
Thaler said his novel creatively explores the interplay of the imagination’s aspirational and dark sides in a relatable journey.
“We all go through childhood and adolescence and many of us share these same feelings during those times in our lives,” he explained.
Bronxland was released on October 14, 2017 to highly favorable reviews on Amazon and was voted the Best Historical Coming of Age Book on GoodR
Surprisingly, Thaler’s novel started as a memoir when he initially wrote it five years ago, but changed direction after a friend suggested converting it into a novel.
Thaler explained that doing so would give Bronxland better appeal and connect with readers.
It was during Bronxland’s launch that he would see how impactful this alteration would prove.
“It was amazing to see how many memories it triggered in people who’ve read the novel and remembered visiting and seeing all of these locations featured in it,” he expressed.
Thaler cites Herman Wouk, the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel ‘The Caine Mutiny,’ as one of his literary inspirations.
“It has been a labor of love writing Bronxland and the process itself has stirred up these dormant memories allowing me to relive those times,” shared Thaler.
Thaler will host a Bronxland reading on Saturday, January 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Yonker’s Barnes and Noble on 2614 Central Park Avenue.
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