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This review is taken from PN Review 202, Volume 38 Number 2, November - December 2011.

Facts and Truth dan burt, Certain Windows (Lintott Press) £9.95

The centrepiece of Dan Burt's second Lintott chapbook collection is a tense, often brilliant prose-memoir of his formative years in the post-war, working-class, Jewish district of South Philadelphia. In particular, it is a portrait of his parents, Joe Burt, the youngest son of a carpenter from the Pale, and Louise Kevitch, the daughter of 'tough Jews' who ran the Tenderloin's numbers racket and its associated prostitution, gambling and protection operations for half a century until the action moved to Atlantic City.

Our sympathies are subtly but firmly directed towards Joe, a brawler and semi-pro boxer whose fights seem emblematic of a wider social and ethnic struggle for survival. 'Lust and rage beset his every age', the author writes, with a feeling mixture of revulsion and pride, before reassuring us that 'bullies and every form of authority were [his father's] targets'. At the age of ten, he fells a lout with a lead pipe. Scarred by the Depression, Joe drops out of school (his brother stays on), becomes a butcher, struggles to keep the family business afloat, but is saved by war-time trade and the deals he cuts with black-market slaughterhouses. Justice is rough. When an anti-profiteering inspector asks to see the coupons for the meat being sold, Joe pitches him through a plate-glass window. When Louise stalls the car in front of a tram and the tram driver insults her 'sex, intelligence and parents', Joe runs to the tram, hauls out the driver and beats him unconscious. ...


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