NEW YORK: Lost in the Stars

"I shall probably live a year or two at most," Poet-Novelist Maxwell Bodenheim once wrote in a letter to a young woman admirer, "and then investigate the twinkling scandals of the sky." The letter was found on the young woman's body in a Times Square subway wreck in 1928, at the height of Bodenheim's literary popularity. This week, 25 years later, Max Bodenheim was off at last to investigate the twinkling scandals.

He died as he had lived—violently, sensationally and in squalor. The operator of a cheap rooming house near the Bowery found...

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