Monday, July 13, 2015

"Now and Then" by Joseph Heller (1998)

I’ve been re-reading some of my favorite books in the past few weeks. In “thinning out the herd” of the books which I have accumulated over the past years I ran across this book about growing up in Brooklyn’s Coney Island area during the Great Depression.

The book is filled with everything good about that experience. The walks to and from school, the street games played by all kids, the foods in the area around the Boardwalk, the subway, the stores; it’s all written in a wonderfully engaging style.

Joseph Heller is the author who bought us the sensational novel of wartime futility “Catch 22”. He had a unique insight into that subject as he served in the Second World War under similar circumstances to those in his iconic novel. That experience is also briefly covered here as well as the author's childhood years.

But the real joy of this book; at least for those who grow there; are his recollections of Brooklyn in what Woody Allen would later refer to as “Radio Days.” If you have parents, or even grandparents who grew up in Brooklyn during the Depression, then this book is a unique look into the world they inhabited and an insight into just who they were as people. And that's a key to who we, as their children; and later, their grandchildren; became.

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