New Nonfiction: The Boy Detective – Roger Rosenblatt

Rosenblatt’s essays for Time and PBS have won two George Polk Awards, the Peabody, and the Emmy. He is the author of six off-Broadway plays and sixteen books. But I think the book he might be most associated with Making Toast, his bestselling 2010 memoir about how he and his wife helped raise his daughter’s small children after her death.

Several eloquent, thoughtful, heartfelt meditations came after that book—each a bestseller—and I predict the same for his newest, which is a reminiscence and reflection on his New York City childhood. I put it alongside classics like E.B. White’s Here is New York and Frank McCourt’s Tis. For an lovers of old fashioned literary nonfiction, this one’s a treasure.

Walking the Manhattan streets of his childhood, Rosenblatt uses the city landscape to delve into eclectic ruminations on the nature of time and space, the slipperiness of reality and memory. By mixing in history, literary references, geography, philosophy, and poetry, he is somehow able to create a 14th Street where (or when) Luchow, a 19th-century restaurant, sits side by side with a modern Trader’s Joe’s store. Rosenblatt’s writing is honest, yet it produces a magical world unto itself…. [T]he idea of controlling the uncontrollable comes into play throughout the book. But Rosenblatt isn’t out to uncover the meaning of life—he is celebrating the fact that ‘life calls for nothing but itself.’”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Rosenblatt shares poignant memories of the landscape of his childhood: the New York Public Library, Gramercy Park, Union Square, Madison Square Garden, and long-gone tenements and movie theaters. With the beautiful, lyrical writing and thoughtful reflection for which he is known, Rosenblatt offers beautifully rendered memories of childhood and ongoing curiosity about the city he so obviously loves.”
— Booklist

The Boy Detective: A New York Childhood (9780062241337) by Roger Rosenblatt. $19.99 hardcover. 11/5/13 on sale.

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