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Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Chronicles of an everyday writer
By Diana Dietrich
Courtesy Alvin Gerson
Gerson — a fresh-faced Navy recruit stationed in Guam in 1944 — chronicled his experiences on the island and on the home front during World War II for his novel.

Malverne resident Alvin Gerson, 87, came late to his latest avocation, as an author.

After graduating from Stuyvesant High School in 1944, Gerson, despite his poor eyesight, decided to join the Navy to fight for his country in World War II. With his future wife, Roselyn, waiting for him at home, Gerson was sent to the Pacific island of Guam, where he joined the Navy Band. In the years since then, his accumulated experiences and memories morphed into a novel, “Guam is a Far Cry from Brooklyn,” which he self-published in 2011.

“These stories are recollections of names, places and incidents that happened more than 67 years ago,” he told the Herald.

Gerson, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, said that the title of his book came from those times overseas when he thought of little else than getting back to his hometown and reuniting with all the places and people he loved, especially his girlfriend.

Many of the stories in the book had been told over and over again at gatherings of family and friends. They begin when Gerson was a teenager and move quickly to his discharge from the military, and finally back to Brooklyn. His wife suggested that he collect the stories in a book so they could be passed down to later generations.

His second book, a novel, “Murder By Suicide and The World’s Shortest Short Stories,” which he published this year, takes readers in a different direction. The idea of writing a mystery about murder, along with a number of short stories with unpredictable plots, came to him during a Passover gathering, and some of the stories themselves, Gerson said, came from strange dreams. He would wake up in the middle of the night and record the stories on his computer, he said.

“I’ve never written fiction before,” he said, “and thought I’d give it a try.”

The book contains more than 100 short stories with surprise endings, which he said are sure to shock readers.

Asked about his writing style, Gerson said he believes it is very easy to understand and very hard to put down. “I’m not into words that are very descriptive,” he said. “I like to write as if I were talking to someone.”

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