Buy new or used from an indie through our partner Biblio:
Growing up as an Italian American in Bensonhurst, Marianna De Marco longed for college, culture, and upward mobility. Her daydreams circled around WASP heroes on television - like Robin Hood and the Cartwright family - but in Brooklyn she never encountered any. So she associated moving up with Ocean Parkway, a street that divides the working-class Italian neighborhood where she was born from the middle-class Jewish neighborhood into which she married. This book is Torgovnick's unflinching account of crossing cultural boundaries in American life, of what it means to be an Italian American woman who became a scholar and literary critic. At the start, Torgovnick goes home to Bensonhurst soon after the shocking racial murder of Yusuf Hawkins. The first essay describes life in "the neighborhood" as viewed from the present, with clarity, empathy, and tough critique. The title essay, "Crossing Ocean Parkway, " revisits the famous Brooklyn thoroughfare as a symbol of culture that gradually lost its luster. Another essay charts her arrival as a new Ph.D. in a small New England college town, where she faced the painful imperatives of class, power, and privilege. Amid the careful manners and stifling complacency of the college, she suffered the death of her first child; her moving account of this death ends part one. In the book's second section, Torgovnick interweaves autobiographical moments with engrossing interpretations of American cultural icons from Dr. Dolittle to Lionel Trilling, The Godfather to Camille Paglia. Her experiences allow her to probe the cultural tensions in America caused by competing ideas of individuality and community, upward mobility and ethnic loyalty, acquisitivenessand spirituality. Called back to Bensonhurst by the illness and death of her father, Torgovnick concludes with a homecoming epilogue. The desire to be like others gives way to her recognition that likeness is never complete; Torgovnick knows she will always be crossing Ocean Parkwa
University of Chicago Press
October 17, 1994
5.69 X 0.93 X 8.7 inches | 0.86 pounds
Earn by promoting books
About the Author
Marianna De Marco Torgovnick, professor of English at Duke University, is author of the acclaimed Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives, also published by the University of Chicago Press.