Why Not Say What Happened: A Sentimental Education

A renowned cultural critic tells his own deeply engaging story of growing up in the turbulent American culture of the postwar decades.
In this deeply affecting memoir, Morris Dickstein introduces us to his Lower East Side childhood and his boisterous and close-knit Jewish family. Drawn to the literature, the films, and the heady cosmopolitan culture of the 1950s and Beat-generation New York City, Dickstein, a precocious student, finds himself abandoning the confined religious world of his grandparents and parents for the creative enticements of modern American culture. This inevitable tension runs throughout the memoir—reflected in his fierce rebellion as a yeshiva student, his embrace of a world of ideas and rich literary traditions at Columbia, his sexual awakening and first love affair, his emotional turmoil at genteel Yale and Cambridge, and the liberation promised by the chaotic upheavals of the 1960s—all drawn in eloquent and gripping detail. In the tradition of classic memoirs by Alfred Kazin and Irving Howe, Why Not Say What Happened: A Sentimental Education sheds light on the many different forms education can take.

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