Reviewed By for Reader Views (11/08)
"The Organ Grinder and the Monkey" is a complex story of three individuals whose lives, personalities and characters are molded by events of their childhood. Sam Moffie builds a plot around these three characters: Seymour Petrillo, Irving Hanhart, and Constance Powers.
Seymour grew up in Steubenville, Ohio. He spent a lot of time with his grandfather who imparted philosophical views on Seymour. His father was gay. The marriage broke up. Seymour spent weekends with his father and his father's friends. A particularly distressing weekend visit to his father left Seymour emotionally traumatized. Moffie gives an insightful look at the blight of the ghetto, the death and decadence of decay and parallels this with Seymour's downward spiral.
Irving's mother was Jewish, his father Irish. They operated a bookstore in Brookline, Massachusetts, which was a meeting place for radicals. They were known as revolutionaries. Irving developed a sense that all the events around him were the results of a great conspiracy. A childhood incident caused him to establish his career goal early in life. He wanted to become a New York City policeman.
Constance grew up in Boardman, Ohio with her mother. She came from a wealthy family. The family went through the money on gambling, drinking, and other vices before Constance had the advantage of an inheritance.
Following high-school graduation all three of the protagonists enroll in Youngstown State University. Fraternity hazing, secondary roles in drama, part-time jobs, and constant put downs by classmates continue to shape their personalities, philosophies, and quirks.
In a casual campus encounter, Seymour, Irving, and Constance discover that they are all planning to head for New York City after receiving their college diplomas: Seymour to become a veterinarian, Irving to attend police academy, and Constance to become a Rockette.
In a unique way Moffie weaves together the lives of these three very different individuals in a complex story with psychological twists that touch the emotions, through humor, tragedy, and reality. Broken dreams, disappointment, dysfunctional personalities, and difficult circumstances continually confront the three protagonists.