Brooklyn-born, Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83. The cause was complications of a recent stroke, said Michael di Capua, his longtime editor. Mr. Sendak,… Read More »Remembering Maurice Sendak
It is remarkable that Brooklyn has become synonymous with cultural ferment, artistic innovation and an unstoppable surge of gentrification that is attracting a growing horde of super achievers. Although these two strains of environment changers are often in conflict with one another, both are prospering, radically changing the reputation of the borough from what was once an object of both pride and ridicule to one of the most culturally dynamic places in America.
The fact that I no longer recognize it as ‘my Brooklyn’ does not in any way impugn its current significance, but looking at it from the vantage point of the Brooklyn of my childhood and youth, roughly within a sixteen year span from 1932 to 1948, I can only conclude that the present, despite its glorious trappings of culture and prosperity does not come close to the wonder, excitement and exultation that captured my adolescent soul and never let go of it.
I have recapitulated those old Brooklyn days in a number of my novels like Funny Boys, Banquet Before Dawn and the New York Echoes short story collections, which offer the most details of that halcyon experience, but allow me to open the spigot of memory with some brief images of that bygone moment of urban joy.
My life in Brooklyn was lived betwixt two neighborhoods, Brownsville and Crown Heights, both Jewish enclaves then. Irish and Italian neighborhoods were contiguous. Of course, there were other Brooklyn neighborhoods for every ethnic group under the sun, racial, national and religious. There were also wide economic and class distinctions easily identified by house sizes and the usual trappings of wealth.
In my Brooklyn days these other places seemed to reside in another country, perhaps another planet. We were very aware of our boundaries by look, smell, dress, religion and customs and we knew that when we crossed those lines we had invaded a somewhat hostile foreign land.
By Adam Langer, Published in the “Jewish Daily Forward”, August 07, 2013 Two of the strongest novels published so far this year, Joanna Hershon’s “A Dual Inheritance” and Adelle Waldman’s “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.,” happen to be written by young, Brooklyn-based Jewish women writing smartly and wittily from the perspectives of men. This might not be a remarkable fact in and of itself: Look for a smart, witty novelist these… Read More »Joanna Hershon and Adelle Waldman Grow in Brooklyn
Though she now calls Brooklyn Heights home, author Ellie Levinson is no stranger to the world abroad. In fact, she’s spent much of her life across the world in South Africa, as she poignantly relates in her recent memoir “Let’s Play Hopscotch, Growing Up Under Apartheid in South Africa” (Tate Publishing & Enterprises). On Tuesday, Dec. 17, Levinson will appear at the Brooklyn Heights Branch Library in conversation with Elizabeth Scholtz, director emeritus of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, who also hails from South Africa. Levinson will read passages from her memoir, which she will discuss with Scholtz, after which there will be a book signing.
In “Let’s Play Hopscotch,” Levinson enlivens her hometown of Welkom, the small region in which she grew up with five siblings. She recalls her experience being raised with a Catholic, Lebanese mother and an English father under apartheid rule and goes on to describe her extensive travels to 42 different countries.
Likening her life to a game of hopscotch, Levinson reflects on hopping from country to country and the endless array of characters she’s met along the way. Most notably, Levinson met Ivan, a Jewish medical student whom she married 36 years ago and with whom she has raised four children.
Home Is a Place Over the Bridge Brooklyn informs most of writer and television producer Gary David Goldberg’s work. Goldberg, probably best known for the television series Family Ties, grew up in Bensonhurst in the 1940s and 1950s with his grandparents, parents, and older brother. They were three generations living under one roof. (Goldberg’s grandparents, immigrants from Russia and Poland, lived downstairs in the apartment building.) In 1991, he created… Read More »“Brooklyn Bridge” Teleplay