Monday, December 31, 2007

On building The Felsenfeld Collection

On August 6, I had a post about the potential for a Felsenfeld Collection.

The post referred to a Talk of the Town article in the July 30 The New Yorker about Brooklyn classical composer Danny Felsenfeld showing up as a character in several recent novels.

I wrote:

Now here’s how I think: This is a great opportunity to assemble the Felsenfeld Collection, a small, but intriguing collection of novels featuring characters all based on the same individual. It would be an especially nice collection if all the books were signed by Felsenfeld.

A few months later that post generated this response:

Were you to assemble the Felsenfeld collection, you might be the only one--though apparently this is not a done deal: there may be more.

But if you get it together, I will happily sign it!

Thanks for your post; got a big kick.

Daniel Felsenfeld (a.k.a. "Inspector")

I can now report that I have assembled first editions of three of the four books now in print featuring Mr. Felsenfeld: Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Lisa Carey’s Every Visible Thing and Katherine Min’s The Secondhand World.

Felsenfeld is also a character in At the Feet of the Divine by Benjamin Anastas. That book has not been published in English, and I have not yet determined exactly how I will let a German bookdealer know that I need an “Erste Auflage” of Anastas’ book.

BTW, here are the references to Felsenfeld in each of the three books I own:

In Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union where he appears as Inspector Felsenfeld. The first reference comes on page 22:

“Speaking of rumors," he says, "what do you hear from Felsenfeld?”

Felsenfeld is Inspector Felsenfeld, the squad commander. "What do you mean, what do I hear from him? I just saw him this afternoon," Landsman says. "I didn't hear anything from him, the man hasn't uttered three words together in ten years. What kind of question is that? What rumors?"

In Katherine Min’s The Secondhand World by Katherine Min he is a high school teacher, who appears to be OK with students’ displays of public affection. Here’s the reference form page 115:

“ . . . and at least once a day a teacher tapped us on the shoulder and said, “PDA” – sometimes with a smile, like Mr. Felsenfeld, who wanted to show that he personally was cool with it but must reluctantly enforce school policy . . .”

He makes a very brief appearance in Every Visible Thing by Lisa Carey. On page 110, she writes:

“Suspecting that Dr. Felsenfeld had already had a conversation with Danny’s mother, Owen has no choice but to follow the tide of children toward the lunchroom.”

There’s no other reference I could find, although The New Yorker describes Felsenfeld’s character as a pipe-smoking, high school principal.

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