Henry Roth's posthumous novel, "An American Type," has just been published and, in its wake, a fiesty literary debate has started to brew. The reviews are trickling in (stay tuned for my own, appearing in the upcoming June 18 issue), and perhaps the most devastating comes from Joshua Cohen in Harper's. Sadly, his essay is not available online, but I got my subscription copy late last week and was riveted by the piece.
Probably my favorite subgenre of literature is that of "the walker in the city," books in which people saunter or stroll through New York City, experiencing themselves changing and growing as they come to understand the physical and metaphysical infrastructure of New York. Among my favorites of these books are Henry Roth's "Call it Sleep," Alfred Kazin's "A Walker in the City," and the collected comic strips of Ben Katchor.
The story of a teenager in this country nine or 10 years sharing a cramped apartment with her mother, sister and two boarders sounds like it could have taken place a century ago, when the Lower East Side teemed with newly arrived Jewish immigrants.