Vanessa McMahon is a celbrated author, filmmaker and producer
‘No Ballyhoo’ by Canadian-Italian-Turkish novelist Mauro (Mevlud) Martino is a kaleidoscopic look at New York life from the perspective of three generations in the Big Apple starting from the early 1900s to modern day. The novel is a microscopic look into the Polish-Jewish Cohen family beginning with Leonard Schwartz Cohen who had a prized pickling business from which he sold his famous dills from street carts of Krakow, Poland and later in Brooklyn, NY. Leonard’s pickles sewed the seeds of the great Cohen family history and a gilded jar is kept on the home mantelpiece like a praiseworthy Academy Award, a reminder of the long Cohen dill pickling legacy.
Fast forward to modern day NY where cultures bringing foods and religion clash, mingle and assimilate and we arrive in the neighborhood of ‘No Ballyhoo’ where Polish Jews, a Nigerian 49th Assembly (made up of Nigerians, Somalians, Ethiopians), Turkish bellydancers, Italian cafe owners and all the diversity that makes up the distinctly delectable dish that is Manhattan, NY.
From philosophic world views in references to Jung and Freud to religious beliefs – Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, even atheist; from the exotic and traditional dishes of Istanbul, Poland, Italy, India, Africa mixed with the New World eclectic flavors of America and Canada; from the drumming of African percussions, American jazz, Turkish pipes, Polish waltzes and everything else that echoes into John’s cafe from the bowels of the Martini-Cohen retro music store Last Year’s Music to the grand silences and gaps of expressionless emotion that a great love renders when it happens; here between Kirk Cohen and his Turkish love interest Hesychia Mancuso; from holy books to canonic literature; from salt Kosher dishes to sweet honeyed treats of Turkey…’No Ballyhoo’ is A Moveable Feast.
Like the fish in the Brazilian Amazon with the same name, Ballyhoo, which spends its life skimming the surfaces of water while the great predators linger below, ‘No Ballyhoo’ dives into the thick of NY life and all its predatory social, religious, cultural, romantic, psychological, life issues. Hemingway in its diary like style and homage to the life of this rich city, it is a tribute, a piece of the multi-layered cake that is NY life and all it’s multi-faces and flavors.