Editorial Review of "The Old Stories"
The Old Stories, by David Selcer. Biblio Publishing. 234 pages. Trade paperback $12.95.
How a seemingly ordinary individual can play an extraordinary role
It’s hard to separate the strands of memoir, history, biography, and imagination in David Selcer’s provocative, informative, and deeply moving book. Perhaps the genre doesn’t matter that much. It’s a feast of information and revelation, past and present, satisfaction and regret.
As the Nineteen Century came to a close in the town of Kherson within the Ukrainian province of Greater Russia, a young boy – not at all a scholar – toiled with his lessons at the Great Choral Synagogue. He hated his studies, but enjoyed paging through the stories of Sholem Aleichem, the great Jewish storyteller whose Yiddish tales offered humor and profundity. At nine, Chaim Zelitzer could not absorb the great teachings of the Torah and the Talmud. He had a practical turn of mind. At a young age, his was happy enough to please his father and uncle by becoming a skilled metal worker. But he stumbled through his Bar Mitzvah preparation.
Chaim did honor the traditional goal of the Tzadik: of becoming a righteous man. His older brother, Shmuel, was on his way to becoming a famous cantor. Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1905) prompted the teenage sailor (Chaim) to “go AWOL” to Manchuria. He made his way to the United States via Canada (where the immigration process changed the name to Selcer), and a fortunate arranged marriage provided the opportunity to raise a family, and, with his wife, run a business. His children were often embarrassed by his accent, his foreign ways, and a certain coarseness of manner.
No one expected that this man, in his middle years, would become a hero of sorts. Without explanation, soon after the close of WWII, Chaim (now long known as Hyman), became involved for about eighteen months as a worker for the entities that would soon help bring forth the State of Israel. This man, who never had a birth certificate, somehow, with his sophisticated and well-connected Ohio friend Herschel Bloom, worked for the cooperating Jewish organizations that would change the history of the Middle East. They were part of Aliya Bet, the secret organization that created a secret Jewish fleet for the purpose of facilitating Jewish immigration to Palestine, a crucial step toward undermining the power of the British Mandate for Palestine, which favored other political outcomes for the remains of the former Ottoman empire.
This part of the story is told, long after Hyman’s death, by Bloom, who is questioned relentlessly by Hyman’s younger son, Lester. Lester had been a resentful son growing up in the shadow of his older brother Ben. Just like Chaim had grown up in the shadow of Shmuel. Lester never could please his father; never received praise, encouragement, or even useful answers to his questions. His understanding of his father is modified through hearing Bloom’s narrative of courage and commitment. This brief stretch of time within the overall narrative includes a romantic subplot in Hyman’s relationship with an attractive woman, Leila, he meets on Kfar Giladi, a kibbutz that absorbed many newcomers to nascent Israel.
Mr. Selcer’s prose has an abundance of descriptive power. He is able to put his complexly-drawn characters into vivid, realistic settings across the decades of his fable-like tale. The author is also able to set forth the historical issues and events with clarity and precision. Moving as well is his handling of the various characters emotional ups and downs.
Is Lester, who is the novel’s primary first-person narrator, actually David Selcer in disguise? It sometimes seems that way. But no: David Selcer is the son of Lester and thus the inventor of the needed fictional answers to the narrative’s questions that would otherwise go unanswered.
--Phillip K. Jason--
This review first appeared in the May-June 2020 issues Federation Star (Jewish Federation of Greater Naples), L’Chayim (Jewish Federation Lee and Charlotte Counties, and The Jewish News (Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee). Tagged as Aliya Bet, Authors and Books, biographical novel, birth of Israel, book reviews, David Selcer, family history, Florida Authors.
- Editorial Reviews of "Lincoln's Hat and the TEA Movement's Anger"
Harlan Pomeroy is a young Kentuckian setting off for college in 1855 when he encounters Sally Hairston, a free black girl who will later bear him a child. Pomeroy never forgets her. He will use his education to become a journalist, joining a political movement known as the “Know- Nothings,” a group that despises President Lincoln in part because of his loose immigration policies that draw Germans, Irish, Jews and atheists into the country. When the Know-Nothings attempt to assassinate Lincoln, they end up with his hat, which they give to Pomeroy for examination. Tucked in it he finds a letter of support to Lincoln from the author of the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx. This adds further fodder to Pomeroy’s hatred of the President whom he now sees as a supporter of socialism, an ideology he believes will “rot the country from within.”
Pomeroy has allies who share his views and plot yet another assassination attempt that also fails. Leading a new movement called The Enlightened Americans, or TEA party, Pomeroy joins forces with actor John Wilkes Booth in a scheme to kidnap Lincoln. But after Booth’s bold assassination of Lincoln, Pomeroy will become a target for the Pinkerton agency and flees west to escape their investigations.
Lincoln’s Hat captures the imagination while presenting a character, fully believing in the rightness of his actions, yet unable – or unwilling – to fully contemplate the consequences of them; a problem that always makes for good story-telling. The Know-Nothings anti-immigration stance demonstrates their sense of nationalism, even though some understand their propaganda as racially motivated. Pomeroy and his friends little realize that their “exaltation of the rights of individuals,” as Selcer puts it, will result in endangering the general good.
In driving home these points, Selcer makes use of long, complicated conversations among his central characters and a blend of real and imagined events relevant to the story. His behind-the-scenes depiction of Lincoln as both high-minded and no-nonsense are an engaging addition to his story. Selcer has done extensive research on the historical period during and following Lincoln’s presidency which is admirable.
With a fast-moving plot and political intrigue, Lincoln’s Hat gives us history with a human face.
By Barbara Bamberger Scott--Chanticleer Book Reviews
Clips from other editorial reviews of "Lincoln's Hat and the TEA Movement's Anger."
"Lincoln's Hat is a must read for any historical fiction fan." ---Red River Review
"I found myself engrossed" ---Historical Novel Society
"My favourite aspect of the book was how multidimensional it was. At first appearing to be a book about a young journalist taking a stand against the President it became so much more. It tackles strong issues such as class discrimination and racism. Racism was the most important and harrowing concept developed in the book for me and made me look back in history with horror at what the world used to, and still can be, like."--E. Moffet,--OnLineBookClub.org
Lincoln's Hat and the TEA Movement's Anger is a cleverly written historical novel, and the author's love for that time period is evident. The book is first and foremost Harlan Pomeroy's tale, but it is also the chronicle of a nation's' political climate during a crucial tome in American history that should never be forgotten --Kislany--
Independent reader review--Lincoln's Hat and the TEA Movement's Anger
Harlan “Harley” Pomeroy (Silas’ son, King’s College (Columbia U, ministry, lawyer, journalist) at the time had kept the company of Sally Hairston (Mulatto).
Months later she had a son she named Arlan.
All of the Hairston family including Zachariah Hairston (Sally’s father, leather goods maker), & Jacob (Sally’s adopted 1/2 brother) moved to Coopersville so no rumors would get started.
Silas Pomeroy (Harlan’s father, prominent Kentucky politician) had inherited Blue Meadows farm (Lexington/Frankfort) from his father.
Blair Pomeroy (brother, former Confederate soldier, cotton trader, accomplice) & Harley’s mother had passed away.
Harlan is now a journalist with the Atlantic Monthly owned by James T. Fields. Comfort Fields is his daughter who Harlan kind of fancies.
William Poole (aka Bill the Butcher, boxer) was the leader of a political group the Know Nothings (American party).
Blair & his accomplices: James Blevins, Hannibal Barker (shooter), Davey Blaine (southern cracker), & Loyce Knudeson (Yankee) tried to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.
Allen Pinkerton (Pinkerton National Detective Agency) had come to see Comfort Fields (debutant, aka Ms. Bo Peep).
What happened next to Davey Blaine & Artiss Gaston?
Will Harley & Sally be able to live together.
What about Harley & Comfort?
I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. Only an honest one.
It started right off with a bang & I couldn’t put this book down. 1 of the top 10 list of 2016
A very awesome book cover, great font & writing style. Wow, a very well written what-if historical fiction book. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were no grammar/typo errors, nor any repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great pre-Civil War era movie, or mini TV series. There is no doubt in my mind this is a very easy rating of 5 stars. --Tony Parsons--
Thank you for the free (Goodreads; Writersspace; Tate Publishing & Enterprise LLC.; Autographed; Paperback book
--Tony Parsons MSW (Washburn)
Amazon kindle reader sample reviews of "Deadly Audit"
March 3, 2013
"A good, easy read with a lead character who seems to be a cross between Nero Wolfe and Sidney Greenstreet, size-wise anyway. He's much more active than Wolfe, however, especially when on his moped.
Not only lots of action, both physical and mental, but lots of fun when reading about such a heavy set hero who sometimes seems more interested in eating than anything else.
Also provides an interesting tour of Columbus, Ohio.
Looking forward to more Buckeye Barrister adventures."
Feb. 14, 2013 great read. very witty!,
"I recommend this book to anyone wanting a fun, witty read. I'm not familiar with this author, but he is now on my radar! I can't wait for his next book! For $2.99 you will never go wrong."
May 21, 2013 Very Entertaining Read
"I loved this book. I am an avid reader and always ask myself one simple question in determining if it was a good book or not...Did it entertain me? This book certainly did. Being a fellow "Buckeye" I knew most of the places the author talks about. Winston Barchrist III, is a great character. It's all his imperfections which make him so loveable. The author successfully describes all his ( Winston's)co-horts and their role in this fun story without giving away the ending. The characters show us that even those who have the appearance of "perfection" are wrought with flaws."
May 21, 3013 Very Entertaining Read
"An enjoyable read....great mystery. Not your everyday, run of the mill story. More please!
I found the book to be suspenseful and exciting. I would read other books by this author.
One of Selcer's fast paced novels with many twists and turns...not predictable. Simply brilliant... amazing story, great characters, awesome action, and an all-around fantastic book!"
Deadly Audit, April 21, 2013
"I thought the book was well written. I look forward to reading additional work by the author. An enjoyable quick read."
March 12, 2013 Hope there are more coming ...,
"I grew up in Columbus so it was interesting to read a book set there. I am a bit hesitant to give a first book 5 stars, but it really was a fun read right from the start. This was a nicely paced mystery with a likeable character struggling with some self esteem issues taking on some shady people. His flaws, self-talk and the humor these were presented with at times definitely made it interesting and made me care about him. The characters represent some archetypes and the interactions were believable and engaging. I hope there are more to come in the Ohio Barrister Mysteries series. I will definitely read them."
Sample Reader Reviews --Goodreads.com "Deadly Audit"
Deadly Audit: A Buckeye Barrister Mystery:
"I won this book in the Goodreads first book giveaway.
This is one of those quick start beginnings that you can't put down until you have finished the book. I love the main character he is not one of the tall, buffed, good looking characters you usually find in a story but more the average joe with some quirks that make you like him immediately.
I can't wait for the next book in the series."
Deadly Audit: A Buckeye Barrister Mystery
"Author Dave Selcer captured my attention immediately in Deadly Audit, and I couldn't put this book down until I finished it. The central character, an Ohio lawyer, is just quirky enough without being over the top. The story has just enough turns to stay interesting throughout. An enjoyable read."
Barnes and Noble reader review: "Deadly Audit"
An enjoyable read....great mystery.
"An enjoyable read....great mystery. Not your everyday, run of the mill story. More please!
I found the book to be suspenseful and exciting. I would read other books by this author.
One of Selcer’s fast paced novels with many twists and turns...not predictable. Simply brilliant... amazing story, great characters, awesome action, and an all-around fantastic book!"
"This was a nice light mystery. I also enjoyed reading about my hometown Columbus, Ohio."
Sample Reader Review of "Dead But Still Ticking"
What fun we have boys and girls when we take another trip to Columbus, Ohio home of the Buckeyes and my favorite teddy bear of a lawyer Winston Barchrist III!
In Dead But Still ticking dirty little secrets are turning up everywhere Winston is digging. It all starts when his assistant the lovely Miranda opens the morning post to find a money order for five million dollars(I know what I would do!)from fellow lawyer Robert Steinglass who wants to meet with Winston. Robert fails to show up at the appointed time, it turns out he's dead. Winston's investigative skills take over to find out who killed Robert and what the motive is behind the money order.
The suspects in this case are a colorful and crazy bunch that include a Ukrainian widow, Middle Eastern terrorists and a marijuana farmer who insists that Winnie(as he calls him) represents him in both his real estate and business interests.
As our lawyer turned super sleuth follows the trail of baffling clues from one part of Ohio to another he falls victim to chemical poisoning. His extra padding may save his life! Rosanne Harmon who is growing closer to Winston finds herself part of the thickening plot's twists and turns. All of my favorites are back including Tramp Stamp Trudy (who has a real soft spot for Winston), Rabbi Billy Goldman, and Ron Hermius who is required to be on his guard.
As the clock is ticking on this mystery how many people will fall victim before Winston gets to the bottom of it all? My advice; pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage (make mine a martini!), put up your feet and be ready for a cozy that is both entertaining and intriguing. Go Buckeyes, Go!
--Barbara Jean Coast--
Sample Reader Reviews of "Muscles, Music and Murder"
March 27. 2014
Let me tell you Guys and Gals both the title and the cover of this mystery caught the roving eye of Yours Truly;-)! Muscles Music and Murder the third installment of David M. Selcer's Buckeye Barrister Mysteries is filled with culture, charisma, and more than one rivalry.
Winston Barchrist III lawyer, who recently became a super sleuth is at the first concert of the Columbus Ohio Symphony Orchestra season with his girl Rosanne Harmon when the conductor is shot and crashes to the floor. Then we travel back in time with the main cast of characters to travel the road that lead to this fateful night at the Ohio Theater home of the orchestra.
A number of mysteries are in need of being solved and it all goes back to a point when Ron Hermius is charged with the murder of a bronzed, Belgian bodybuilder. Then there is the disappearance of the newly appointed conductor of the Symphony Orchestra which means a trip to Chicago, a city Winston would rather not return to any time soon. Not long after sorting that mess out Winston is on his way to Brussels with Rosanne to see if they can find evidence that will prove Ron's innocence and find a killer who may strike again.
There is plenty at stake for everyone involved and the usual cast of characters are back and helping our super sleuth to get to the bottom of it all. After all who is Winston without his back-up? So be sure to check out Muscles Music and Murder to enjoy all the mayhem! Here's a funny that had Barbara Jean laughing: there's a car service that is run by Picup Andropov. Now, if you are a Car Talk listener you will surely get the name. Bravo to David Selcer you have put Columbus,Ohio on the map! --Barara Jean Coast--
March 1, 2017
A 320-pound lawyer addicted to Ohio State ball games and Hershey bars, the death of a bodybuilder in a tanning- spray bed at the Arnold Schwarzegger Classic Competition, and the shooting of the orchestra maestro at the end of a symphony concert all set the scene and the mood of this story. Winston is the lawyer, down on his luck, eking out a living with jobs and cases no one else wants. He is caught in the lives and problems of his clients-the maestro’s daughter and the man accused of killing his main bodybuilding competitor. In trying to help them with the aid of his trusty secretary and a female PI, he finds himself deeper and deeper in a mess of greed and ambition. Interesting, unusual characters populate this novel as the reader tries to figure out along with Winston exactly who did what to whom and why. I especially appreciated that the author was able to create this gritty crime novel without resorting to sex or graphic violence and with little offensive language. His words instead provided atmosphere and characterization in a compelling story. --ChrisGA--
March 1, 2014
Winston Barchrist is a lawyer in Ohio that is making ends meet by handling divorces, and small cases he can pick up. While attending the orchestra, he witnesses the attempted murder of the new maestro. Winston is already in deep with a pro bono case for a friend that is accused of murder at a local body building competition, and now one of the patrons of the orchestra has asked that he gets involved with finding out who is out to kill the conductor. The more he investigates the more the two cases seem to be one.
This was a typical murder/mystery type book. The characters almost seem to be a little too much out there, but that is what made them fun to read. The story line seemed to drag a bit in parts, but flew almost too fast in others. The writing wasn't the most detailed and in-depth but it would be a great beach read for those that enjoy a good who-dun-it. 2 things that really bothered me that caused the 3 instead of 4 stars. 1: not all body builders use steroids, in fact they are illegal. True athletes/competitors would never take them. and 2: I hated all the excuses Winston kept saying about why he was fat. --Tami--
April 10, 2014
I had not read the previous two Buckeye Barrister Mysteries before this, but no need – this one can stand alone as an entertaining murder mystery set in Columbus, Ohio.
Not only do I love mysteries, but it’s where I’ve lived for many years (been to Symphony and Schwarzenegger Classic, but thankfully no murders). So I liked how David Selcer worked in such places like the Ohio Theater, German Village, Vets Memorial, Hoover Reservoir and familiar restaurants and streets. This all can make this nice for readers to get to know or see the city again, yet I think it also would help if just a little more of the surrounding area and environment were pictured to get a flavor of the city and its culture.
Selcer’s writing style was straightforward, with an occasional twist of humor, and easy to read, serving well to basically describe people and places and move the action forward. Several times, however, the conversation would read like a case listing in a long narrative all the evidence and discoveries up to that point. While it may have served as a good summary for the reader, it felt kind of lawyerly.
I grew to like the main character, Winston, a capable lawyer and sleuth, who was well developed, which some of the other characters could have used more of as well (perhaps this is where the previous two novels may have helped?). It was decent characterization, just seemed a little bit simple with some stereotypical behaviors. For example, it seemed like almost everyone had a foul temper when they got mad or didn’t get their way, especially those from Serbia, Russia, Belgium and Germany.
In the end, this was a good, fun murder mystery set in a city that I know well. --Tex Reader--
February 24, 2014
I won this from a goodreads giveaway and I absolutely loved it. It's exactly the kind of book I'm interested in! --Haven Gordon--
February 14, 2014
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I truly enjoyed the book. Winston Barchrist is a 300+ pound attorney.He originally gets involved because a friend of his Ronnie Herimus is accused of killing his weightlifting competition- Bruge Biliuss and some very damming circumstantial evidence was found at the scene. Then it really gets interesting. While looking into Bruge's death, the new symphony orchestra conductor is shot and almost killed. His daughter Ani wants Winston to find\out what happened to her father. Before its all through 2 more bodybuilders and the conductor are murdered. All in the same way. Winston goes to Belgium to help solve the crime. With the help of his girlfriend
Rosanne and assistant Marinda, Winston eventually solves the case. Very interesting story. I give it 4 stars. --Janice--