Survival of Species : Sol RothmanA 1940s Bronx tenement kid survives a childhood of dyslexic confusion and cruel, alcoholic abuse to test his crazy wit and talent in Will Eisner’s art bullpen.

Survival of Species is a raw, authentic, deeply affecting memoir of survival and risky adventure set in that bustling marketplace of the South Bronx, where train lines and waterways converge at Hunts Point — the destination for fresh foods and waves of greenhorn immigrants in mid 20th Century New York.

It’s hard not to fall in love with Solly, a scrawny little kid who throws himself into games and encounters with danger on the streets, while at school and at home he stubbornly survives crushing dyslexic ridicule, and the seething bigotry and irrational violence of alcoholic abuse.

Revealed through the patchwork of their lives, his mom, Molly, loves her children strong, and works to keep them together through the hard times. She teaches Solly how to laugh at life’s cruelty, and hide your devastation inside. But even she doesn’t know the intense torment and fear he endures as the chosen victim of his Nazi-sympathizing stepfather — nor does his closest sibling, Millie, though she too is subject to Harold’s tyranny. His oldest brothers, who might have saved him, are off fighting their own battles in WWII.

As he struggles to believe in himself, Solly creates his own rules to understand the outside world, and begins to grapple with bigger questions that shape his life, reflecting Molly’s confounding choices. As her life repeats itself in her children, he grows up translating the world through his streetwise imagination, skewed humor, and the movies that become the frame of reference for his life. Inspired by Sid Caesar, the artists of Mad Comics, and his own fever of sexual experimentation, he evolves into an endearingly crazy mix of all three — realizing his humanity and creative talent at his first job in the adult world of Will Eisner’s art bullpen in Manhattan.

The story of author Sol Rothman’s life can make you laugh out loud one moment, and shock you with gut-wrenching brutality the next. So reader, be warned: Survival of Species is not written for the very young, the faint of heart, or the politically correct.

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Survival of Species : Sol Rothman

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