GROWING UP BRONX by Gerald Rosen


Age Range: 1945 - 55
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Less a novel than a fictionalized memoir: recollections of childhood and adolescence in the Jewish, postwar South Bronx--where an apartment in an elevator building represented perhaps the most shining and durable beacon of status. Danny Schwartz, born in 1939, lives closely wrapped in his closely wrapping family: his father is anxious and hot-tempered, seething as he thinks about his debts and the fact that he can't find a parking space near the house; his Aunt Rose is tragic--single, witty, eventually destroyed by depression, then multiple sclerosis;his Cousin Louie (""the mook"") is impervious, with a hard head--""strong as a bull, and you can't really hurt him. . . . A mook is absolutely fearless."" And Danny goes on to the paradoxical De Witt Clinton High, the toughest yet brightest boys' school in the borough--where days are especially marked by harmony-groups singing music heard on Allen Freed's shows on WINS, by outrageous vandalism and casual violence, by gangs just short of murderous intent. Rosen (The Carmen Miranda Memorial Flagpole) provides no plot here, no dramatic tension or fictional texture. But he writes humorously about unprepared-for bar mitzvahs and adolescent shyness. (""If we had a pre-teen dance. . . the girls would dance the Lindy with each other while the boys would sit around and say 'I'll dance, right? When they come out and play baseball, I'll dance.'"") And this is a relaxed, smiling, altogether nice evocation of middle-class Jewish New York, 1945-55.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1984
Publisher: North Atlantic