The Brats of Briarcliff: A World of Boys before TV and Video Games

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9781425725945: The Brats of Briarcliff: A World of Boys before TV and Video Games

Although it might be loosely classified as a memoir no one has ever written anything quite like this It describes middle class childhood in the 1930 s through the relationships between five boys and it breathes of foolishness fantasy improbability and charm A snake suddenly appears out of a hot air register and disrupts a bridge party a young violinist forgets how to end his solo at a commencement and plays on and on a boat on wheels vibrates itself apart and a mysterious bullhead catfish substitutes for Moby Dick then vanishes without drowning anybody The author a former writer at Time Incorporated who became a distinguished historian has written an enchanting book its chapters organized topically rather than sequentially each devoted to a subject like cowboying radio serials wheels indoor and outdoor games love of steam locomotives and discovery of sex The final chapter suggests that the end of childhood coincides with an awareness that life can be wistful and poignant And it concludes that buyouts and proto globalization helped bring an end to that civic and regional integrity which underlay American life before television

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Growing up makes little sense when life is exciting, except that parents will put up with only a dozen or so years of our antics and then hurry us toward college so that we can make our own money. Trouble is, the author never made a very successful adult. After flailing around in New York, Winius took the easiest way out and got a Ph.D. at Columbia, whence he taught Iberian history for thirty-five years at the University of Florida, at Leiden in Holland, and at Brown. Now he lives in Portugal north of Lisbon and awakens to a loud rooster and a chorus of distant dogs.

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