Testing a new title for this manuscript. Below is the summary. Do comment on the possible new title. Alternatives welcome.
Working title: Benjamin Bernstein, American, A man who does all the right things the wrong way.
An historical fiction novel that spans from 1915 to 1942 and reflects the emergence of the American Dream by way of an Eastern European Jew and his triumphs in spite of anti-Semitism. As Ben’s story evolves, the reader is introduced to the origins of NASCAR, number one spectator sport in the U.S., and the dirt tracks where drivers collect fans and promoters exploit the races’ popularity.
Newly immigrated sixteen year old Polish Farmer, Benjamin Bernstein’s, nee Bumirn Slavatizki, first act as a freshly-minted American, is to steal money from thieves he observes fleecing just-landed Jews at the docks. He quickly leaves New York during the polio epidemic by way of joining Pershing’s last Calvary and efforts to push Pancho Villa back into Mexico. Ben saves the lives of anti-Semitic soldiers, learns to speak English, repair all things automotive and use his fists as lethal weapons.
Ben is unable to find work as a mechanic once he musters out because his ‘Jewish nose’ and Polish accent mark him as an undesirable. Upon hearing “We don’t hire your kind here” for the fifth time, he secretly urinates directly into the tool chest of the repair shop. They discover the affront only when their tools are found rusted and unusable a few days later.
His employment solution? Ben repairs and ‘soups up’ cars for a group of bootleggers who can then outrun the police. Once prohibition ends, he naturally transitions as the star mechanic for former bootleggers who originate NASCAR races. He is known as a solitary figure with a fast temper and faster fists, but in the end, he is no longer referred to as ‘that Kike’ but instead, as ‘that genius Jew mechanic.’ And that’s at least something
Ben marries, has children and continues to relate better to cars than people. His angry ways cause his beloved wife to self induce what becomes a fatal abortion rather than bring another child into Ben’s violent world. Ben and the reader wonder how he could do all the right things and be so wrong. Most first and second generation Americans will recognize Ben as one of their own.
Proposed last sentence:
Ben gathered the last of his tools, clean and new looking as ever, and walked away from the Ford satisfied the win came only because he did what needed to be done [specifics later] to fashion the fastest car on the track. He passed the gloating driver and the car’s owner [more color added later] and overheard, “We won because of that genius Jew mechanic.” Ben smiled and mused, “Huh, no Kike or Yid?” Fade to end. Proposed book title: Jew Mechanic