Subtitled Memories of Childhood and Youth- this gives the reader a sense of fascinating sitting-in-on delightful literary chitchat, of sharing -- as a silent on-looker-a life rich in contacts with the great and the near-great of a passing generation of writers and their . Born and brought up in a New Jersey suburb of New York, Van Wyck Brooks mirrors a childhood and youth of comfortable upper middle class American life, in the days when it was still assumed that our culture derived from across the Atlantic. Max Perkins, slightly older but through life an intimate friend, lives again in these pages; and through him Van Wyck Brooks had entree into inner circles of Harvard- and later New York's literary coming of age. But the memoirs are not wholly centered on books and writers. There are charming bits about the big brown school where Miss Kenyon was for two generations a name to conjure with. There are frequent trips to Europe, holidays spents in Italy in Paris, and after graduation in England. Jack Wheelock and Ned Sheldon, with Max Perkins his closest friends, cross the scene repeatedly. The mood, the tempo of the times are recaptured. The changing conception of the American literary panorama laid the groundwork for the books by which he is today best known (The Flowering of New England, etc.) A delight for those to whom these pages will be graceful recapturing of the fading literary scene.