Nights in the Gardens of Brooklyn

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New York Review of Books, 2004 - Fiction - 406 pages
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There was a time when New York was everything to me: my mother, my mistress, my Mecca, when I could no more have wanted to live any place else than I could have conceived of myself as a daddy, disciplining my boy and dandling my daughter.

So begins "Nights in the Gardens of Brooklyn", which gives its title to Harvey Swados's collected stories. In this beautiful and heartbreaking novella, Swados describes a generation "aflame with romance and disillusion," in search of pleasures and answers, and shows how the demands of love and life temper its hopes and fears. It is a perennial story, told by Swados in straightforward and lyrical prose and with tremendous sympathy, and without doubt one of the most enduring achievements of postwar American fiction.

Harvey Swados's many splendid stories speak of work, friendship, and family. They are about the common world, as well as the final loneliness from which the common world cannot protect us. And yet Swados, as Richard Gilman has written, was above all concerned with "the breakthrough into true feeling, the attainment of moral dignity, and the linking up with others through compassion."

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About the author (2004)

Harvey Swados (1920–1972) was born in Buffalo, the son of a doctor. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he served in the Merchant Marine during World War II and published his first novel, Out Went the Candle, in 1955. His other books include the novels Standing Fast and Celebration; a group of stories set in an auto plant, On the Line, widely regarded as a classic of the literature of work; and various collections of nonfiction, including A Radical's America. Swados's 1959 essay for Esquire, “Why Resign from the Human Race?,” has often been said to have inspired the formation of the Peace Corps.

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