Friday, May 18, 2012

Washington Square Ensemble by Madison Smartt Bell

Penguin paperback copy of Washington Square Ensemble from 1984
Washington Square Ensemble is Madison Smartt Bell's first novel and my favorite. He's more famous for his later works but I like this book best—it chronicles the streets of 1980's downtown New York City, especially the eponymous park, and centers around the struggles of five Washington Square regulars. With characters named Johnny B. Goode, Yusuf Ali, Holy Mother, Santa Barbara, and Porco Miserio, this book is nothing short of interesting. Largely centered around the using and selling of drugs at the height of crime-addled New York, Bell's novel is now an engaging time capsule from a bygone era. The cover features a nice 1980's illustration by David Berkner.

A practically illegible inscription by Madison Smartt Bell

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