Myer Rush

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San Francisco. Bruce Rosen's life is in turmoil. He is a young man struggling to make a living as a writer. He works for a dubious Chinese-American newspaper and has to pretend to be Asian on the phone when selling advertisement space for the newspaper. At the end of his frazzled days he finds refuge in 'The Top of the Mark' – the bar on the top floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. And there, one fateful evening, he sees the man who has been a source of lifelong fascination.

His Uncle Myer. A man known equally for his notoriety and his generosity. A larger-than-life character who has seen it all. Headline news when accused of setting up a hundred-million-dollar stock market scam. A man who survived a time bomb that blew up under his bed in a hotel room: windows across the street were blown out but Myer lived to tell the tale. After dying twice.

And now Myer, getting on in years and feeling that this nephew of his needs a break, decides he will tell his story for the first and only time. They just don't live such lives anymore...

The story begins in Toronto in 1925. Myer Rush is born the third son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father, a tailor, is a short-tempered man and his mother an angel. Myer is quickly introduced to a life of crime: at the age of four he is used by older kids in the neighborhood to slither into small open windows and rob from local shops. He sets up a newspaper stand at a corner and quickly learns how to throw a punch to defend his territory. 
Myer's youth is a cross between Dickens' Artful Dodger and the movie 'Bugsy Malone'. Along the way he meets a cast of characters worthy of a Damon Runyon yarn. But his life of easy crime – as grifter, pick-pocket, stealthy thief in hotel rooms – leads eventually to his undoing when he makes the mistake of going 'respectable' and stumbling into a life of white-collar crime. 

Good guys and bad guys were easy to figure out when Myer was a young crook seeking the high life for himself and his family and friends. But he wound up behind bars – and bombed in his bed – when he started trusting people in business suits.

Bruce listens and learns. This young man, struggling to make a living as a writer and also now in love with the woman he wants to marry, tries to comprehend an uncle who has lived a life that could not be imagined and yet is true. 
The interview sessions in the 'Top of the Mark' continue. Bruce is spellbound as he learns about his uncle's life.

Once upon a time there were extraordinary lives such as that of Myer Rush...

Listen to Frankie Boyer's interview with Bruce Farrell Rosen:

Listen to Bruce Farrell Rosen reading from the book, at the Commonwealth Club of California:

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