Paterson Boy by Jerry Vis
Paterson Boy is a memoir told as a series of stories. Sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes ironic and sometimes filled with heartache, Paterson Boy takes you on a journey that will make you reflect on your own childhood with its many disparate pieces. Collectively they are a rite of passage story with all the varied emotions that would suggest, but minus the drama of war, incest, or the physical abuse, of so many other memoirs—for which the author is very sorry.
With a fresh, wise voice, Jerry Vis tells a marvelous story of the freedom of childhood, its loss, and search for the path back to oneself. It is also a tale of Paterson, NJ as it starts to decline, of a neighborhood that is an entire world for Jerry, an only child born into a blue collar family just months before the start of WW II. It is a place of family stores and horse drawn vender wagons, of aunts and uncles, grandparents, teachers and friends. Jerry has an adoring mother who provides a decade of loving security and the freedom to explore his boyhood world on his own, and a remote, intermittent father, who dramatically emerges center stage in his son’s life, along with a confusing mix of God, religion and alcohol.
At the same time, other family members, each with their own agenda, scheme to lure, cajole, or bribe him in an attempt to shape him into what each thinks he ought to be, and to attempt to save him from his father. Suspicious of everyone’s demands Jerry must somehow learn to find a way to become himself, as we all must.
This is a memoir of great charm, empathy and humor. Jerry Vis perfectly captures the emotional center and voice of a child—baffled, frustrated and occasionally entertained by the adults in his life.
This book is the first of three volumes, the second of which has been completed. The author is hard at work on the third.