At Home With Art Tiddy Rowan

ISBN: 9781844005154

Published: April 20th 2011

Unknown Binding

192 pages


At Home With Art  by  Tiddy Rowan

At Home With Art by Tiddy Rowan
April 20th 2011 | Unknown Binding | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, audiobook, mp3, ZIP | 192 pages | ISBN: 9781844005154 | 8.39 Mb

My reading and enjoyment of Teju Coles novel Open City last spring inspired me to reread A Walker in the City because I thought I saw similarities in the two. Coles meditative story about an immigrant doctor in residence wandering New York City reflecting on what he sees and the rich brew of thoughts it all brings to mind reminded me of Kazins memoir because thats how I remembered it. I was surprised to discover its not quite that way. As a boy Kazin did explore and wander a bit. To say it was the compulsive directionless walking of a deeply introspective man is to misrepresent it.Kazin became introspective, of course.

He became one of our foremost intellectual minds. During the course of his memoir, though, hes a boy. Instead of encompassing the entire city, Kazins focus is more local: the subway, the synagogue, and the kitchen. Its a memoir of a boyhood spent in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, at the time a Jewish neighborhood with much Old World flavor. There is movement in the book. The man Kazin became rides the subway to step into the pool of nostalgia he finds in his old neighborhood. From that penetration the focus expands outward to remember how the boys curiosity and increasing awareness encouraged him to move into newer environments.

The synagogue and the busy family kitchen are early centers of life. As he grows his world broadens to the block and to nearby streets. The last section is indeed a walk, to Highland Park where he stands on the edge of the wider world, ready to leave Brownsville.This is very much a memoir of what it was like to grow up in a section of the city dominated by Jewish families and their way of life so reminiscent of Europe. Kazin vividly records it all. In his beautifully modulated prose, one of the hallmarks of Kazins oeuvre, he remembers the even spacing of horse dung in the street, the regular pat of a ball bouncing against a wall, all the sights and food smells of clamoring businesses and play around him recorded as rhythmically as a boys steps on a sidewalk.

He carefully makes the distinction between American and Jewish cultures. Standing within Brownsville and its protective Jewish atmosphere, the outside was American. Its intensely nostalgic for him, the remembered arc of learning and growth from child to boy on the cusp of manhood ready to make those first steps into an academic life and away from Brownsville forever.

As we know, Kazins journey was one of significant literary importance. In A Walker in the City, the opening volume of an autobiographical trilogy, he revisits the beginning of that journey to record how the first boyhood steps in the synagogue, the kitchen, and the street gave direction to the man he became.

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