An American Coming-of-Age Story
Becoming is being published as a multi-part series for the Kindle, and also as a set of paperback books.
Please note that as the series covers a quarter-century in the journey of a boy into manhood, there are frequent instances of explicit sexual encounters and dialog.
Part 1: THE LONE RANGER AND THE MOUNTAIN RESCUE
Winter, 1940 through Spring, 1944
Snow building onto the outside window ledge… An hour before coal was shoveled into the furnace four stories below that eventually would cause rising steam to rattle the expanding steel radiators in the Lipensky’s third floor apartment on Chicago’s west side. The six year old boy’s unreachable house slippers — carelessly kicked askew beneath the bed — Mitchie awakens with an urgent need of the toilet, and his frigid, bare-footed rush to “make”. His need flushed. Wiping his misplaced urine with his father’s, carefully refolded replaced towel, the floors frigid sensation burning the soles of his bare feet, now back in his bedroom with a palm painfully pressed against the frost covered window, looking through his hand-print cleared glass: “Snow!” Steel runners bumping from step to step, dragging his Flexible Flier sled down the three flights of steps as, barely able to move beneath the layers of clothing heaped upon him by his mother, so begins Mitchie’s ( AkA: The Lone Ranger’s) snow-plowed, arduous, mountain journey about the four street boundaries of his block; the four street boundaries of his world as meeting Mitchell’s best friend, Norman and some of the people that populate Mitchell Lipensky’s world while in search of his “faithful Indian companion, Tonto.”
Part 2: THE SENTENCE
Fall 1945 through Fall 1948
“Sam, slice for me a pound salami, hard, please.” Coincidentally at this time Myra Lipensky entered Sam’s Grocery and after the usual obligatory questions and replies, “Where’s your Norman? I haven’t seen him in weeks. The boys didn’t have a fight, did they?” “Oh, no!” replied Ida. “My Norman’s going to be twelve in July, and if we want him to be a Bar Mitzvah he’s got to go to Chader!” Hebrew school, thought Myra. That’s where Norman is! No wonder Mitchell never mentioned it. With the end of the war and their new photography business and now the mother of two boys, it had slipped Myra and Walter’s minds. And Mitchell, of course, not being inclined to school of any kind, would never mention that Norman was going to Hebrew School because if he did, it would remind his parents and he’d be going, too… Oh, no! And for Mitchell Lipensky and his distraught Rabbi, The Sentence had just begun … Then, of course, seeing as Norman wouldn’t he did, there was that legendary incident in the girl’s washroom.
Part 3: THE GIRL WITH GREEN TEETH
June 18, 1949
After an argumentative back and forth, not too happy approval from his parents due to their fifteen year old Jewish son’s assuring them that Frankie’s Italian neighborhood was a safe place to visit. Having been invited to his tough south side neighborhood by Frank Rizzo — Mitchell’s best friend while banished/attending Baylor Military school in Wisconsin during the war years of 1942 and 1943 so that both of his parents could take full time jobs in a “defense plant” in order to earn and save enough money for their post-war business — with Frank’s promise that Mitchell would get “screwed, blued, and tattooed.” Although Mitchell had no Idea what Frank meant by “blued” and positively did not want to get tattooed but he most certainly did want to get screwed. Once there, greeted by a much changed — hair DA slicked more adult-like Frankie— then left to wait outside of his father’s grocery for the few minutes it took Frank to do something for his father, Mitchell was accosted by two neighborhood Bullies. During the physically threatening, frightful encounter, at last coming to his rescue, Frank chased the two off after belting both with a baseball bat. Then, after his first time ever spicy pizza and his first time ever glass, or two of strong Chianti, it was time to meet “The Girl With Green Teeth.” And more wine. Much more home-made Dago Red. Then— concluding in no way that he could remotely envision — came about Mitchell’s legendary “climatic” encounter in a World War Two “black-out” bedroom with the girl with green teeth.
Part 4: MATCHBOOK WORDS
For once it was Norman’s idea: “Come on, Mitchie! You’ll love it!” “No, I don’t really think so.” he replied. “You remember what our favorite games were when we were kids?” Norman asked. “Yeah, sure. Cops’n’robbers, cowboys’n’indians, and soldiers. So?” “Yeah, you’re right, ‘soldiers’! Only now we get to play with real guns.” Glancing at Mitchell over his shoulder. “It’ll be fun, and guess what? We get paid too.” Reaching into his shirt pocket, removing a pack of Lucky Strike cigaretts, pressing one up, Norman pulled it out with his teeth. Taking a book of matches from his coat pocket, he struck a match and, cupping his hands around the cigarette Humphrey Bogart style, lit it, took a deep drag, let the smoke stream from both nostrils then, “Here,” handed the matchbook to Mitchell. Taking a cigarette from his pack of Chesterfields, Mitchell stuck it between his lips and lit it —transforming him instantly, so he thought, from a boy to a man— then handed the matchbook back to Norman. “No! Read what it says.” Taking it, Mitchell looked at the small folded square of cardboard:
JOIN THE U.S. NATIONAL GUARD
“Girls!” Knowing his friend’s weakness, “Girls love guys in uniform.” Lying about their ages, Norman and Mitchell enlisted in the Illinois National Guard.
On June 25, 1950, the North Korean army crossed the 38th parallel.
Part 5: STEEL BUTTONS AND BRA HOOKS
August 1950 Through July 1951
Union Pier, Michigan
Standing above her, “Ina, hi!” his back to the sun. Turning from her stomach onto her back, shading her eyes from the sun, “Oh!” Having spoken to him only in passing, feeling flattered that a boy as handsome and standoffish as Mitchell Lipensky would even stop by to say hello. “Hi, Mitchie!” Already sixteen, Ina was almost six months older than Mitchell. She had peroxide-bleached, streaky blonde hair. Her face was round with small, dark-brown eyes, a turned-up nose with red-tinged nostrils due to blowing and rubbing because of allergies. Her forehead and chest were dotted with pin-head-size sun blisters and, though not fat, Ina was fleshy with thick thighs, a somewhat flabby stomach and, patting the edge of her blanket,”Sit down, why don’t’j’ya.” Complying sitting on the edge of her blanker, Mitchell’s eyes went from her rather homely face to the creamy swelling at the top of her two piece bathing suit and, Oh, God, he thought, she’s got great tits! Forcing his eyes from her chest to her face, “Ina,” not sure how to ask. “Look, I’m, uh, babysitting tonight,” he said bluntly, “and was wondering if you’re not doing anything, if you’d like to, uh, come on over and keep me company.” Ina, too, looked… At Mitchell’s green eyes, darkly tanned, scrumptious face, and, her eyes shifted downward, to—wearing his yellow, brief-type bathing suit, sitting cross-legged as he was— Ina Dorfmann certainly noticed… That eventually also ended in a way that Mitchell could not remotely envision that led to the legendary “enlightening” situation in Ina Dorfmann’s father’s 1950 Pontaic.
Part 6: SOUFFLÉS’N’SEX
August 1950 Through December 1951
Sandra was of average height and figure for a sixteen-year-old girl, and did, indeed, have blue eyes and blonde hair and, Hey, he thought, she’s cute as a button. His eyes shifting from her cute-as-a-button face to the noticeable—though small—twin points of her breasts that jutted from beneath her powder-blue cashmere sweater and, Yeah! this girl was just about everything Mitchell had always thought he wanted in a shiksa. ‘Public Speaking 1’ was the only class he shared with the girl. Knowing that this was the best way to meet her, Mitchell was vocal in a very friendly, positive way. Sandra and most of the class picked up on his interest and she felt flattered that this handsome new boy was interested in her and so responded with like friendliness. When she spoke to him, though, standing where she stood, about fourteen feet from his chair, she didn’t appear to be speaking to him but to someone behind his right shoulder. Turning, he glanced at the student behind him, but knowing that she had to be speaking to him, turning back quickly he noticed that although her face and eyes were looking in his direction, Sandra’s pupils were not, but when she looked at the notes in her hand or at nearby objects they straightened. Putting him off a moment… What the hell, he thought, so she’s a little cross-eyed… That, with the passing of two weeks, led to a balmy nights educational nude swim… with a different girl that kept her pledge to Jesus.
For those who prefer paper, the Becoming series is also being released in paperback.
The first book is now available – it contains the first three parts from the Kindle series –
1) The Lone Ranger and the Mountain Rescue,
2) The Sentence, and
3) The Girl with Green Teeth.
“When I decided to review this book, I was worried because number one, I rarely have time to sit down and read a book as long as this one and two, because I stupidly felt I’d never be able to connect with anything in it. I’m female, Christian, grew up in the country, and the time period was before my time. I was wrong, wrong, wrong! The subject matter is timeless, the characters so genuine they jump from the pages and into your heart, and being the mother of boys—I could even relate to the male point of view.
The story begins in 1939 on Chicago’s west side and follows five-year-old Mitchie for the next seventeen years of his life. A true coming of age story told in graphic detail. And the humor—did I mention the humor? I found myself laughing out loud many times. I especially loved when the humor came at a time when it was totally unexpected, the way it is in ‘real life’. I can’t say all I’d like to say about the book because it needs to be experienced first hand and I don’t want to spoil that experience for the reader by saying too much.
Mr. Lichterman is a talented storyteller with a beautifully unique writing style and strong voice. His characters are delightfully flawed, giving them an unsurpassed charm and authentic quality. Becoming transcends all gender, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds, so no matter where you’re coming from, if you love truly great coming of age stories, give this one a try.
My one complaint is I felt the book ended too soon. I was sad when reading that last page and know these characters will be with me for a long time.” – Willow (A Working Girl Review)
“Wonderfully well written it paints a life picture at times through eyes of both humor and disappointment. I was reared in the rural south but this work transcends ethnic and geographic boundaries so that we can easily identify with Mitch, especially in his quest to lose his virginity. Mark’s wit and great sense of humor comes through in a style that holds ones attention long after putting down his book. You just know this has to be Mark’s story and that of those who experienced life with him. This is indeed a book worth reading for the sheer enjoyment of remembering the way we were and those people who made it interesting.”
“As one raised in a Chicago neighborhood around the same time Lichterman grew up in his, I found this coming-of-age novel very reminiscent of my own childhood and adolescence. However, to enjoy this book, one needn’t be from Chicago (or Peoria, for that matter), nor a child of the same era. The scenes, characters, experiences, relationships, conversations and events in this book are vividly and brilliantly depicted in a way that will awaken fond, fearful, and passionate memories in the reader fortunate enough to acquire this gem of a book. It is a poignant, humorous and timeless tale that moves along at a satisfying pace.”
“You just know the author either lived next door or maybe on the next block `cause that’s the way things were growing up in the late 30s, 40s and into the `50s. There was no TV showing “things” or a computer to “Google” what a boy needs to know. It was just day-to-day wonderment and exasperation to face. The story was so close to my younger years that I started to bet myself that he would add other happenings of my life, and he sometimes did. O! The fun, anger, bitter joys of your growing years that the author brought back.”
“Loved the book. It brought me back to an earlier time and I loved being there as “a fly on the wall.” I found it easy to empathize with Mitchell. He gave me great insight into “coming of age” from the prospective of a boy. I wish I could have read it when I was growing up…could have let me understand that those “cool” boys were just as insecure as I. A must for us old folks and certainly a good read for everyone!”
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