Author: Ed Brodow
Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.
In this world there are talkers and doers. Doers walk the talk or do what they say they are going to do and take action, while talkers are prone to continue to talk without taking action. Doers are path finders, not afraid to take risks and go where other people have not gone before. And this brings me to Harry Leonoff, the protagonist in Ed Brodow’s novel Fixer-someone in the Lower East Side of New York, who was known to get things done.
Brodow informs his readers in the Acknowledgements that his grandfather, Harry Wolkof was his boyhood idol and the inspiration for his protagonist Leonoff. He describes him as follows: “His bravery and charisma, in conjunction with his willingness to help other people, made for an amazing life that calls out to be heard.” Although, Brodow did not know enough about his grandfather to write a memoir, nonetheless he was able to piece together some details of his life from conversations he had with family members as well as his research concerning the political scene in New York City during the 1920s and 30s.
At the age of nine, Leonoff contracted polio. The excruciating pain he endured and the loss of use of one of his legs was something that many adults would not be able to withstand. However, he was a survivor and as Brodow states, “one of the lessons his disease would teach him is that circumstances often push us into unknown territory that enriches our lives in ways we never could have anticipated.”
Although he lacked a formal education, Leonoff still managed to self-educate himself and even apprentice for eight years in a lawyer’s office. However, he decided that practising law was not for him as he felt that he was put on this earth to help the underprivileged whom he believed were not fairly treated by the justice system.
As a result of his widespread political network, he was appointed marshal of the Municipal Court wherein his primary function was to enforce civil judgements and eviction notices. This was a position that would afford him ample opportunity to help many individuals in dire need. Leonoff may have been rough around the edges, however, taking a page from the Old Testament, his motto was that the Lord will provide.
In several instances he was the provider, particularly in cases where people were about to be evicted from their homes. In fact, during the 1920s, Leonoff used the marshal’s office to dispense his own version of justice. In Brooklyn he acquired the reputation as a kind of political Robin Hood and as we read, “he was held responsible, either directly or indirectly, for untold charitable acts on behalf of whites and blacks.”
Leonoff was not afraid of anyone, however, when he did take on Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, he did not realize that the repercussions would be so far reaching.
Although Fixer is a little over two hundred pages, it is an ideal example of effective precise prose depicting a character that is both compassionate and at times crazed. It is also a novel that tells more about a political era and the people that populated it than many non-fiction social history texts. It will surely live on in our imaginations long after the book is put to bed.
Ed Brodow has worn many hats in his life as motivational speaker, author, Fortune 500 sales executive, corporate consultant, construction worker, Marine Corps officer, and Hollywood movie actor. He is a member of Screen Actors Guild. Fixer is his first novel and we can now add to his many vocations his storytelling skills that are amply confirmed as he masterly evokes time and place.