A Walker in the City

A Walker in the City coverA Walker in the City
Alfred Kazin
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 192 pages
Kindle edition $9.99, Amazon paperback $12.92

I read literary critic Alfred Kazin’s two autobiographical works, A Walker in the City and New York Jew during my bookselling days in the 1970’s. I enjoyed the books at the time and decided that I wanted to return to them.

The present volume covers Kazin’s childhood and high school years. He describes his Jewish immigrant neighborhood of Browsville and how taking the subway into the heart of New York City felt like traveling to another world. He discusses life in the depression years with so many people out of work and how many immigrants became Communists or members of other radical parties. On the other hand, many immigrant shopkeepers in the Italian neighborhood displayed a picture of Mussolini in their front window.

Kazin is a master of painting word pictures and he brings New York City of the 1930’s to life. Whether it is his own home life, his school, neighboring immigrant communities, or protestors in the street, Kazin offers us brilliant descriptions. I look forward to re-reading New York Jew, which covers his adult years.

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