What I Saw at the Fair
Ann Birstein grew up in New York's Hell's Kitchen, where her father, Bernard Birstein, was the rabbi of the famed "Actors Temple," the synagogue that counted Milton Berle and Jack Benny among its congregants. Rabbi Birstein's blond-haired youngest daughter grew up to become a writer, despite the prevailing attitudes that frowned upon any woman who chose a career over marriage and children.
After the release of her first novel, Star of Glass, Birstein's editor introduced her to Alfred Kazin, already an esteemed man of letters, twice divorced and a dozen years her senior. Their instant attraction deepened into a dizzying, passionate love. On Alfred's arm, Ann found herself thrust into the height of New York's literary and intellectual circles, with giants such as Saul Bellow and Ralph Ellison as their most intimate friends.
What I Saw at the Fair is a lively narrative of Birstein's early years as a rabbi's daughter, her long, tumultuous marriage to Kazin, her struggle to come out from underneath her famous husband's shadow to become a respected writer, and of the evolution - and death - of a vibrant generation of intellectuals. And, most important, it is the tender, laugh-out-loud story of what Ann Birstein saw as a woman in search of her own life, home, and identity.
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