The Open Door
Story Line Press, Paper, 1997, 214 pp
Finalist for the Oregon Book Award.
A selection of The Oregonian Book Club.
Chosen as one of the best books of the year by The Oregonian and the Eugene Register-Guard.
From the Publisher:
In the late 1930s, the explosively mismatched Myron Adler and Faye Raskin meet and marry. Myron owns a live poultry market in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood and Faye, the haughty and pretentious daughter of a well-to-do Manhattan jeweler, leads a fantasy life filled with high-class suitors, show business stardom, wealth and exclusive glamour. Through the 40s and 50s, as the Adlers raise two sons, their difficulties erupt in troubling, sometimes violent ways. The Open Door, Floyd Skloot's powerful third novel, traces how Richard and Daniel Adler respond to a home environment of physical and emotional abuse and grow up to become radically different men. With candor and precision, Skloot captures the nuances of second-generation Jewish immigrant life. He skillfully presents the pulse of mid-century Brooklyn and Long Island, where the Dodgers, the Mad Bomber, Mafia heavies, two-bit boxers, and sudden catastrophes make up a world the Adler brothers struggle to comprehend, survive, and eventually escape.
Quotes from reviews of the book:
"It is a comic novel that is punctuated throughout by moments of considerable anguish . . . . The plotting is lucid in The Open Door. It's language is so unpretentious, even when Skloot resorts to Brooklyn Jewish dialect, that it almost disappears; the reader becomes that immersed in the story . . . . The Open Door is a well-crafted novel, a captivating and timely story worth telling with a message worth remembering." --Library Journal
"Everything in this novel has the true ring you'd expect in a memoir, but it has the artful arrangement of the novel. Skloot makes you laugh all the way to the places where he socks you. . . . He's the kind of writer you give yourself over to for the duration. He knows how to make a world" —Sandra Scofield, The Oregonian
"The Open Door is Skloot's most personal - and certainly most Jewish - piece of sustained fiction, for the story Skloot tells is one of loss and remembering, of the times and places that defined a second generation of immigrant Jews. In less skillful hands, the result could have been marred either by melancholy or sentimentality; what we have is lyricism of a particularly brutal and moving sort." —Sanford Pinsker, New Jersey Jewish News
"His eloquent voice - as one who has really been there - is absorbing, sometimes humorous, sometimes wrenching. It's a voice that reminds us: there is nothing old or tired about the issue of child abuse. And happy endings are where we make them." —Eugene Register Guard
"The Open Door is a well-crafted novel. A captivating and timely story worth telling with a message worth remembering." —The Jewish Review
"Sheds necessary light on that long chain of humans doing harm to one another in the name of family. What emerges is a stinging and ultimately hopeful story, worthy of shelf space alongside Pat Conroy's The Great Santini." —Jo‑Ann Mapson
"A beautiful book, the stuff of literature" —Binnie Kirshenbaum
"Skloot's rich period piece is a reminder of more timeless truths." —Barb Scot
"A dazzling examination of a misguided marriage and its effect on two generations. His portrayal is painstaking, but ultimately, and thankfully, generous. The book nets you in the first paragraph, and holds you through the ending which is quiet and perfect." —Karen Joy Fowler, judge, Oregon Book Award