Knickerbockers

I do have a memory of frayed stockinette cuffs below the knee, baggy corduroy swishing and chafing the thighs, long stockings with clapped-out elastic slipping down schoolboy shanks. From all of which I conclude I must have been in the very last cohort of children ever to wear knickerbockers. [Read more]

Best & Co

My cousin Ruth worked at Best & Co, which is how I first heard of it. I don’t know what she did there, probably something in a stockroom, or at least behind the scenes, as she was, unlike her numerous sisters, exceedingly plain and physically awkward and her English would not have been up to sales or office work. [Read more]

Sister Patsy

Reading one’s own work after a long interval gives one a certain distance. It has become, in a sense, strange. I am moved and distracted, I speed up and slow down, as with any reading. Like any other reader, I puzzle over its meaning. [Read more]

November

In due course my father showed up at Fort Lee police station, having taken the subway to 181st Street and walked across the bridge in the rain. Together we walked back across the bridge and took the subway home to Brooklyn. All I remember my father saying, on that long and dreary journey, was that his boss had told him they could not keep him on if this were to happen again. [Read more]

Brighteyes

I took to daydreaming during these monologues, which Walsh, or Welch, took as a personal offence, and she was not long in spinning her revenge. She called me Brighteyes, after a Viking tale of H. Rider Haggard. It was her conceit that I was Swedish, and therefore thick, and it amused her to address me in a macaronic Scandinavian sing-song. [Read more]

My new book

These novels—and Luggas Wood, which has nothing at all to do with Brooklyn—seem to me ultimately about the possibility of action in the narrow space between the brute facts of human violence and cruelty, and an increasingly impotent and fragmentary religious culture. [Read more]