Sugar Pop Moon
Set in both 1906 and 1930, this story centers on Jersey Leo, also known as Snowball, an albino bartender of mixed race in Prohibition-era New York City. Jersey has two homes: the Pour House speakeasy and the Hy-Hat, a youth club that tries to keep young people out of trouble. When Jersey inadvertently purchases counterfeit moonshine (the sugar pop moon of the title), he must travel to Philadelphia to settle the score and return either the money or the moonshine to his boss. While in Philadelphia, he’s tracked by a pair after his bones for a voodoo ritual. They follow him back to New York. All this, and women problems, too.
Jersey decides to call on the might of his boxer champion father. The two fight to survive and triumph as the story of Jersey’s origins is explored in the 1906 sections. The two plot tracks dovetail nicely by journey’s satisfying end.
Crackling with Chandleresque crack-wise charm, a breakneck pace and wonderful characterizations, Sugar Pop Moon delivers the goods. Details of both periods bring them alive. Best of all, Jersey is a wonderful character, in league with great ultra-outsiders like Beverle Graves Myers’ Tito Amato. Highly recommended.