A brief (112-page) reminiscence by one of America's greatest prose stylists. Recounting her relationships with her southern Jewish family and especially with her "kissing cousin," Katie Pyle, Calisher in her first nonfiction work threads her way through the memories and mystifications of a lifetime. The result is a volume that is at once immensely touching, frequently hilarious, and superbly written. Raised on the outskirts of New York City in a family that boasted more than an ordinary number of "individualists," Calisher depicts with a sure hand the tensions and tendernesses of family life. Particularly haunting is her portrait of Katie, a spinster of phenomenal resilience and dedication whose "secret" supplies the frame of Calisher's tale. If there is one quibble here, it is that the "secret," when it is finally revealed, is predictable and sentimental. But as she ranges back and forth between the family's Long Island home of her childhood, a faintly sinister "holiday" in Atlantic City, and the Florida retirement community where Katie eventually ends up, Calisher comments with her usual subtlety and perceptiveness on the nature of love, the pleasures of language, the persistence of memory. A fitting companion to--and as evocative and precise as--Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory.