The Boy from Hell's Kitchen

The Boy from Hell’s Kitchen


John Fleming grew up in the 1940 ’s and ‘50’s in Hell’s Kitchen, a New York City slum, now gentrified. He wanted to show how it was at that time, since no writer he was aware of had told this story with the voice of one who had lived the experience. In this candid and often humorous memoir, Fleming shows it all. The dark side includes dirt, roaches, alcoholism, promiscuity, fighting, bullying, the embarrassment of living on welfare. But sprinkled throughout are moments of enjoyment-- frolicking in the water from a fire hydrant, playing chess on the roof with a buddy, diving off the Queen Mary’s deck, discovering the enchantment of reading. John emerges at the age of 20 from the cocoon that is Hell’s Kitchen as a strong adult, inured to hardship, alert to hypocrisy, ready to move to the next phase of his life.


The story builds in a series of vignettes with powerful imagery and authentic dialogue. The characters speak in their own voices, and the narrator alternates between the voice of his young self as a participant and the voice of his adult self looking back. Hell’s Kitchen comes alive in this unadorned portrayal of the life of its residents.


Here is a link to the series of three books in the memoir