In The Messiah Comes Tomorrow, veteran journalist Alan Lupo recounts the stories of working-class Jews, both those he grew up with in Boston and those he interviewed elsewhere over four decades. "For too long now", he writes, "the perception of Jews in America is that of an upper-middle-class people engaged mainly in 'the professions' and rarely doing the dirty work. Thanks to the cliches of modern literature and film, the Jew is seen as a kvetch, a whining, self-pitying, mother-resenting character. Lost, somehow, are the others -- the working stiffs, the small-time business owners, the amateur scholars, the bookies and street sluggers. . . . Such characters, very few of them famous, are part of the rich American landscape".
In this selection of columns and profiles, Lupo vividly evokes the poetry, passion, and daily struggles of common men and women. We meet the aging burlesque comedian, the bookie who swore he would not rat on his Mob associates, the dealer in secondhand clothing, the aunt and uncle who would never move up to a better apartment. Lupo captures the humor as well as the pathos of people in transition from insularity to assimilation, delineating their lamentations and wisecracks, their fatalistic humor and street smarts. The book is both a portrait of and a tribute to a culture gradually disappearing from the American scene.