It all began in Buffalo between World War II and the Korean Conflict, as it was called, when the guys would meet up late at night in a diner for their brand of fellowship. They were mostly high school graduates in their late teens and early twenties, the sons of immigrant families. It didn’t matter; there was little trace of that showing. They didn’t look or act alike, but they had a sense of who they were, sort of proud for some reason, without much to show for it.” –from the Introduction
At the center of the group was Arnie. He might have been selling real estate for the time being, but he always had his eye on the next thing–Christmas tree farming, perhaps, or uranium mining. Then there were Moe, who had a gas station and garage, and Barney, who drove a truck for Pop’s Pies. Observing it all was an art student working odd jobs to afford his paints and brushes–Phil.
In 110 vignettes about Arnie and the guys, Philip Sultz presents a fictionalized portrait of the working-class Buffalo of his youth. He also vividly sketches the downtown Manhattan of those days, where his protagonists are drawn to study and to work. These stories–by turns funny and poignant, perfectly told and full of telling details–evoke not only the life of two cities, but the atmosphere of postwar America. Even in shadow of McCarthyism and the atom bomb, it was a time emblematic of possibility and change. Lake Effect Days is illustrated with color reproductions of Sultz’s critically acclaimed collages, which echo the text in their formal perfection and add new layers of allusion.