Jane Manthorne

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 149

For Charlie Matthews of "The Nitty Gritty" the only way to be somebody is to get out of Dogtown. He decides to "buy in" with flashy, fast-talking Uncle Baron and take to the road, following the racing season from track to track. Charlie has really "gotta hustle" to get enough...

(The entire section contains 149 words.)

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For Charlie Matthews of "The Nitty Gritty" the only way to be somebody is to get out of Dogtown. He decides to "buy in" with flashy, fast-talking Uncle Baron and take to the road, following the racing season from track to track. Charlie has really "gotta hustle" to get enough cash. His get-rich-quick schemes include dump picking, ladybug hunting, boxing and a final violent, blood-spattered scene unique in children's literature….

Faithful to the argot and atmosphere of the city, ["The Nitty Gritty" is a hard-hitting story] of ghetto people, some still striving for something better, some surrendering to poverty…. "The Nitty Gritty" is played out in a … casual, light-hearted mood. Parents drink their beer and send their truant kids off to make a few pennies at the shoeshine parlor. (p. 28)

Jane Manthorne, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1969 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), January 19, 1969.

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