Goldman Novel a Game Plan Against Prejudice

This review appears in the Jan. 7-13, 2010 issue of the Naples Florida Weekly. You can find it at: Florida Weekly – L. C. Goldman

“The Fighting Ethnics,” by L. C. Goldman.  Mountain Valley Publishing.  280 pages.  $16.95.

L. C. Goldman is the poster boy for productive senior-hood. This 82 year old former advertising executive has launched a flotilla of new careers in Naples. He encourages the seniors that he meets to avoid the armchair and the TV, develop their untapped capacities, and get involved.

This whirlwind of Pelican Bay is seemingly everywhere. On January 6, he was scheduled to make his third appearance on Dave Elliot’s WGUF radio show. On February 10 and again on March 10 he will give a lecture called “Advertising Campaigns: Stories Never Told” at the Naples Center of FGCU. Call 425-3272 to pre-register.  He is president of the Naples Chapter of the American Technion Society, raising consciousness about Israel’s foremost university and research facility in science and technology. Mr. Goldman invites distinguished Technion professors in various disciplines to speak about their work.

L. C. Goldman also moderates “Great Decisions” sessions for the Naples Council on World Affairs, a branch of a national organization. These meetings generate informed, nonpartisan discussions. The Council also offers a series of lectures by foreign policy experts. Not enough to keep busy? Mr. Goldman also writes columns for both the “Naples Daily News” and the “Pelican Bay Post.” He mixes humor and thoughtful argumentation on a wide range of issues.

This energetic senior is probably best-known as a novelist.  He made a huge splash several years back with “A Big Hit in Pelican Bay.” Since then, he has published three other books, the latest being “The Fighting Ethnics.”

In “The Fighting Ethnics,” three young men – a light-skinned Black, an Italian-American, and a Jew – meet as Notre Dame roommates after hiding their ethnic identities to insure admission on athletic scholarships. They form a powerful bond, fighting against campus prejudices as well as the head football coach’s prejudice against playing freshman on the varsity squad. Mo Greene, the son of Holocaust survivors who are super-sensitive to anti-Semitism, has changed his name from Maurie Greenberg. His father is outraged that his son has betrayed his heritage by entering this bastion of Christianity. Tony Granelli isn’t hiding his Italian heritage, but the fact that his father is a Mafia Don. L J Jones, whose father passed as a white man, is tempted to do the same.

All three quickly drop their subterfuges, first to one another, then to the team and the larger community. L J even grows an Afro! After all, they have been accepted and they are on the famous Notre Dame football team. However, they still have to fight prejudices that are in the air during the early 1970s, and especially those running rampant in the mind and actions of the head coach, who does all that he can to keep to keep each of them “in his place.”

Mr. Goldman is at his best when writing crisp banter among the three student athletes. He nails the personality and speaking style of each. He wins the reader over through his portrait of their strong bond and mutual respect, often manifest through the mock stereotyping gibes that they toss at one another. The author hooks readers into rooting for each step in the trio’s success, as they work hard to prove themselves, become starters, and help the football team reach the pinnacle of success.

Mr. Goldman’s management of the family tensions affecting each main character, tensions in part resulting from their relationships with seemingly out of bounds women, complicates the story of the football season in engaging ways.

There are lapses in credibility, such as when readers learn that a Jewish Kenyan princess has renamed herself after a minor Jewish holiday and celebrates it each year. The holiday, Tisha b’Av (meaning the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av), is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar and for many a fast day. There is nothing to celebrate.

All in all, L. C. Goldman has fashioned a lively, upbeat, and often humorous tale that provides an important perspective on the workings of discrimination. “The Fighting Ethnics” show their stuff as heroes on the football field, but more importantly as valiant warriors in the battle against prejudice. 

L. C. Goldman signs his new book at the Naples Barnes and Noble (Waterside Shops) on Saturday, January 09. Discussion at 1:00pm, book signing at 2:00pm. Call 598-5200 for information.

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