Like Levenson the performer, Levenson the writer is gentle, sentimental and a hyperbolic storyteller, whose metier is a happy combination of Golden's Lower East Side nostalgia binges and Alan King's jovial assaults on contemporary idiocies of the new generation and its beleaguered parents. Levenson does the New York shtik -- the bracing hard life (""We had a permissive father. He permitted us to work""); culture and excursions (""Next time I take you anyplace I'm gonna leave you home!""); commerce (butcher-bargaining vs. today's supermarket); food (things that melt in the mouth and harden in the stomach, viz., ""a delicate potato pancake could be reborn as a hockey puck""); love and marriage and death. Levenson's low-keyed style allows him to slip into both genial sermonizing and solemn matters with ease. A nice man, a nice book for the family circles with East Side ties.