Joseph Epstein The Goldin Boys.
Norton, 221 pages, $19.95
There’s this guy in Chicago, name Joe Epstein, grew up in West Rogers Park, went to Daniel Boone School, you know him? He could have managed a furniture store or sold insurance or become a liquor distributor. Instead, he did good for himself in academe, editing a fancy magazine called The American Scholar and writing a bunch of books about other guys’ writing. You’d think he’d stick to highbrow stuff—instead, he wrote a book about furniture-store owners and street peddlers and loan sharks. Go figure. Or, as they say in Chicago, draw your own conclusions.
I don’t know whether Mr. Epstein indeed attended Daniel Boone, but having read these stories of his (which originally appeared in Commentary and The Hudson Review), I feel as if I’d attended it along with his characters. I also feel...