Eugene Kramer publishes “Isaac” sixty-five years later.

Eugene Kramer publishes “Isaac” sixty-five years later.

Eugene Kramer (right) with his friend Isaac, not the character from the 1953 “Isaac.” Sometime in the mid 2000s.

 

Madame Bovary (1857) by Gustave Flaubert, Part III, Chapter 6

Madame Bovary (1857) by Gustave Flaubert, Part III, Chapter 6. “He” is Léon Dupuis, Emma Bovary’s adulterous lover. Léon fears the affair will harm his career and seeks to renounce Emma.

 

Advertisement for Soul City, ca. 1970. (wiki)

Advertisement for Soul City, ca. 1970. (wiki)

Eugene Kramer (b.1929) has accomplished much. He holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Chicago, had a successful career as an urban planner — including work on Soul City, North Carolina, a planned community premised on racial integration — and is an avid collector of jazz records and memorabilia and chess books and magazines.

Less well known is that from about 1948 – 1954, Eugene actively pursued fiction writing as an avocation — and as all writers hope — a vocation.  Mostly, beginning in his sophomore year at the City College of New York, Eugene produced his early work in Professor Henry Leffert’s English 2 and English 12 M.

Revisiting his collegiate corpus in 1990, Eugene took a dim view, noting on its sheaf: From My Infancy, to be destroyed after my demise, EK.

Eugene's 1990 response to his collegiate work.

Eugene’s 1990 response to his collegiate work.

At the University of Chicago and in several years after, Eugene’s work matured.  The most polished or interesting is probably “Isaac” (November, 1953).  Along with the five page short story are about a dozen extant pages of notes.

The piece is perhaps too philosophically driven and could be illuminated with more penetrating detail. Nonetheless, the story is well paced and engaging. In his notes, Eugene says one intended theme is the interplay between artistic and sexual impotency.

As seen in To Dad from Talker with Love, Eugene has made solid yeoman contributions to the magazine. As such, we are rewarding him by publishing “Isaac” (at end), making “Isaac” Eugene’s first fictional publication.  65 years is better late than never.

At the same time, we wonder why did Eugene gave up his pen around 1954? Three years later, he was married and settling into a comfortable bourgeois life. Was Eugene perhaps akin to Léon Dupuis, Flaubert’s character in Madame Bovary?

In the novel, Léon, an artist manqué, sets down his pen for the safe and conventional life of a head clerk.

— for in the heat of his youth, every bourgeois man believed, if ony for a day, for a minute, that he is capable of boundless passions, lofty enterprises.  [from Madame Bovary (1857) by Gustave Flaubert, Part III, Chapter 6 ]

Eugene (first row, last, rear) in 1947 at age nineteen when a student at City College in New York.  He dreamt of becoming a writer and a jazz musician:

1947, Eugene Kramer (first row, last, rear). Matt Gabler founder of the famous Commodore Music Shop at 136 East 42 Street greets Louis Armstrong at an autographing session on behalf of Robert Griffin's "Horns of Plenty." Arrayed around Armstrong and Gabler are members of the store's staff, including Jack Crystal, Billy Crystal's father. From NY Times asks for help with "A Jackie Robinson Mystery." Well, Eugene Kramer was there. (Almost)

1947, Eugene Kramer (first row, last, rear). Matt Gabler founder of the famous Commodore Music Shop at 136 East 42 Street greets Louis Armstrong at an autographing session on behalf of Robert Griffin’s “Horns of Plenty.” Arrayed around Armstrong and Gabler are members of the store’s staff, including Jack Crystal, Billy Crystal’s father. From NY Times asks for help with “A Jackie Robinson Mystery.” Well, Eugene Kramer was there. (Almost)

the most halfhearted libertine . . .

In 1970, while working for the Urban Development Corporation, Eugene took a junket to Finland and the Soviet Union where he exposed himself to communistic ideas of free love:

Eugene (second from right) in either Leningrad or Moscow, USSR (1970)

Eugene (second from right) in either Leningrad or Moscow, USSR (1970)

. . . has dreamed of sultan’s wives;

(left) Rochester, NY, October 1969. Eugene with intern when her worked at the Urban Development Corporation. (Right) 1970. Eugene in Moscow, USSR.

(left) Rochester, NY, October 1969. Eugene with intern when her worked at the Urban Development Corporation. (Right) 1970. Eugene in Moscow, USSR.

My father, Eugene Kramer, was there too. (Taylor Ray, left, Eugene, right). Technically wearing a body suit, Taylor is not nude under NYS law. The now defunct Half Dollar, Rochester, NY, January 1991

January 1991, the now defunct Half Dollar, Henrietta, NY. Eugene with Taylor Ray, winner of the Playboy vs. Penthouse showdown. Technically wearing a body suit, Taylor is not nude under NYS law. Spelling is not Taylor’s forte as she wrote “Jene” not “Gene.” From To Dad from Talker with Love

And so he gave up the flute, exalted sentiments, and fancies of the imagination;  

Guiness Jazz Festival, Ireland, 1990

Guinness Jazz Festival, Ireland, 1990

Besides, he was about to be made head clerk: the time had come to get serious. 

In 1957, Eugene married Carol Klapprodt and settled into a bourgeois existence with an occupation, home and two children:

honeymoon

August 31st, 1957. Eugene with Sultana Carol Kramer, née Klapprodt, embarking on their honeymoon.

mORPHY

Mid-1960’s. (left to right) Carol Kramer, David Kramer, Eugene Kramer, Morphy Kramer and Leslie Kramer

When recently re-discovering his manuscripts, Eugene kindly offered them to Talker of the Town.

every notary carries within himself the remains of a poet

Eugene, Rochester, NY, Christmas, 1985.

Eugene, Rochester, NY, Christmas, 1985.

Eugene, Rochester NY, Thanksgiving, 2018

Eugene, Rochester NY, Thanksgiving, 2018

“Isaac” by Eugene Kramer, November 1953

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Isaac 5 new

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EDITORS NOTE: The publication of “Isaac” puts to rest any conception that Eugene is or was, in any form, Flaubert’s Léon Dupuis.

Emma and from the 2014 film adaptation, Madame Bovary. (waytooindie,com)

Emma and Léon from the 2014 film adaptation, Madame Bovary. (waytooindie.com)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I recently discovered a letter I wrote to Eugene and Carol in April, 1986. The snippet reveals the theme of Flaubert and the bourgeoise writer runs deep.

Passage from letter sent by David Kramer to Eugene and Carol Kramer, 4/86

Passage from letter sent by David Kramer to Eugene and Carol Kramer, 4/86

SEE ALSO

Thanks, Dad!

To Dad from Talker with Love

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY and Lake Affect Magazine.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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