Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Dear Great Book Guru, I was having breakfast at B Brown's yesterday, and a group of us started talking about our Brooklyn connections. Apparently, many Sea Cliff families either once lived in Brooklyn, have children who now live in Brooklyn, or wish to live in Brooklyn themselves ( leave Sea Cliff? temporary insanity, I know…) . I would love to read a book, preferably a novel, about present day Brooklyn. Any recommendations? Baffled by Brooklyn
Dear Baffled, I was just in Brooklyn this weekend visiting our daughter who has moved into a beautiful apartment in Fort Greene by the Manhattan Bridge. Later in the day, I read a new novel by Paul Auster - SUNSET PARK. Sunset Park is a section of Brooklyn pretty much untouched by the gentrification that has swept over large areas of the borough . The book opens in Florida where a twenty-eight year-old New Yorker is scrapping out a living cleaning foreclosed and abandoned homes. Miles Heller has dropped out of an Ivy League college and left his affluent Manhattan lifestyle for a number of tortured reasons we learn about gradually. In the midst of a new crisis, he receives an offer from an school chum offering him a share in an abandoned house in Sunset Park . In effect, he would join a small community of squatters who are awaiting eviction by the city marshalls, but are living day to day in hopes that "things will turn around." Each of the tenants narrates part of the overall story, and we soon realize that the faltering economy with its sagging real estate market, widespread unemployment, and pitifully low wages is the demonic anti-hero of this novel. For those of us used to the sparkle of Cobble Hill, the grandeur of Brooklyn Heights, the allure of Carroll Gardens, this is a sobering read.