PULITZER PRIZE WINNER HENRY ALLEN brings alive nearly five centuries of family by describing places where they lived amidst Indian wars, a witchcraft trial, privateering, wagon trains, a split over slave trading, the friendship of presidents, the dwindling of the old Anglo Saxon hegemony, let alone the heartless mysteries of money, alcohol, and gentility from plantations in South Carolina and Guadeloupe to a boardinghouse in Queens, a sadly grand old house in Orange, New Jersey, farmhouses, mansions, apartments, ships, tents and dormitories, towns in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
The New Yorker
originally published the book's opening essay "407 Highland Avenue" as "At 407: My Grandfather's House and a Lost Era."
"Henry Allen is a man knows who he is and how and where he got there. His
telling of his story rings and reads real. It is so good that if you have the time or inclination to read only one book this day-week, month, year, decade - do yourself a favor and make it this one."
Jim Lehrer was the anchor for PBS
News Hour for many years.
"Henry Allen is the truest chronicler of our American dream. By taking us into the homes of his history, he reveals our own lives in shafts of sunlit prose streaming through the windows of time and place. All of Allen's arts of journalism, poetry, fiction, and painting smoothly blend into this intimate prose portrait of American life. You'll remember this book even as it helps you understand the memories of your life. Henry Allen is a treasure of American literature."
James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor
and recipient of France's Grand Prix
du Roman Noir
"These essays are seemingly casually written, so understated, assured and wry, that everything Henry Allen mentioned came back as vividly as the dream our childhood always is. I grew up around the same time, in the same area, but it took these essays to make me realize how amazing that world was, its immediacy paradoxically rooted in history, its small pleasures enormous. I loved the book.
Ann Beattie, author of Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist
Imagines a Life and The State We're In:
Henry Allen. Intense. Mercurial, Bearded. Marine veteran of Vietnam. Feature writer and art critic at The Washington Post, 1970 2009. The author of Going Too Far Enough: American Culture at Century's End, What It Felt Like: Living in the American Century, Fool's Mercy: a novel, and The Museum of Light Air: poetry. Henry Allen was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for criticism at the Post.