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Almost Everything I Knew About NYC

when I came here came from one source, a fictional one: the novel “Marjorie Morningstar” by Herman Wouk. It’s the story of a young Jewish girl (Marjorie Morgenstern) living on CPW in the 1930s and her break-the-bourgeois-rules affair with a pseudo-Bohemian Jewish Cole-Porter-wannabe named Noel Airman (formerly Ehrman). ‘Marjorie Morningstar’ is the stage name Marjorie hopes to adopt. It ends in the 1950s with the sad triumph of conventionality. But I and my friends read the book several times in high school, and it left a vivid impression of the charms of a romantic bohemian life. In it I discovered the Village, Riverside Drive, the Catskills, summer camps, Broadway, Central Park, the Bridle Path, and so on. It was made into a not very good movie with Natalie Wood, if I remember correctly, and I bet they gave it a happy ending.

One of these days I have to read it again. But thinking about it, I was struck by how literature has changed. In the 1950s and 60s, authors like Herman Wouk and Irwin Shaw wrote really popular best sellers that were good literature. Nowadays, it seems to me, the literary world has fractured into trashy best-sellers and less popular good books.

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