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Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007
Alex Halberstadt's first book-length work was the 2007 Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus, a biography of the singer and songwriter who penned such popular songs as "This Magic Moment" and "Save the Last Dance for Me." Born Jerome Felder to a working-class New York Jewish family, Pomus contracted polio at age seven and thereafter was confined to a wheelchair and later to leg braces and crutches. As a teenager he debuted as a white blues singer in a Brooklyn club, won applause, and re-created himself on the subsequent subway ride home, taking on the name Doc Pomus. He went on to write music for popular performing artists spanning several decades, including Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Andy Williams, Ray Charles, Dion, Fabian, the Drifters, and Led Zeppelin. Halberstadt chronicles the life and times of this composer, examining his marriage to singer Wilma Burke, his collaboration with Mort Shuman, his hiatus from songwriting when he turned to professional poker, and his return to the musical scene until his death in 1991.
Though a Kirkus Reviews critic found Lonely Avenue a "drag," other reviewers had high praise for Halberstadt's biography. Booklist contributor Mike Tribby noted that the author "lovingly details Felder/Pomus' life in a streetwise style." Similarly, Library Journal reviewer Carol J. Binkowski called the book a "riveting biography," as well as a "rich portrayal of a bygone era in popular music." New York Times Book Review writer Alan Light termed Lonely Avenue "a taut and affecting biography," while a Publishers Weekly contributor felt that "Halberstadt's understanding of how Jewish and African-American ‘hipster’ subcultures fit together in the music world is particularly sharp." Pop Matters critic Michael E. Ross concluded that Halberstadt "gives us the name, the face and the life of a singular talent, one whose magic moment endures."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 2006, Mike Tribby, review of Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus, p. 10.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of Lonely Avenue, p. 1055.
Library Journal, October 15, 2006, Carol J. Binkowski, review of Lonely Avenue, p. 64.
New York Times Book Review, March 25, 2007, Alan Light, review of Lonely Avenue, p. 7.
Publishers Weekly, January 15, 2007, review of Lonely Avenue, p. 42.
Green Man Review,http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (April 16, 2007), David Kidney, review of Lonely Avenue.
Harp Magazine,http://www.harpmagazine.com/ (April 16, 2007), Denise Sullivan, review of Lonely Avenue.
Morning News,http://www.themorningnews.org/ (March 12, 2007), review of Lonely Avenue.
NY1,http://www.nyi.com/ (April 10, 2007), George Whipple, review of Lonely Avenue.
Pop Matters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (April 13, 2007), Michael E. Ross, review of Lonely Avenue.