How I Came Into My Inheritance: And Other True Stories

Dorothy Gallagher, Author
Dorothy Gallagher, Author Random House (NY) $22.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-375-50346-7
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Paperback - 187 pages - 978-0-375-70750-6
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-7531-9752-3
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-7531-9753-0
Open Ebook - 102 pages - 978-1-4000-3306-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-21333-3
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Gallagher's previous nonfiction (Hannah's Daughters: Six Generations of an American Family and All the Right Enemies: The Life and Murder of Carla Tresca) chronicled other people's lives. Now she turns her considerable talents to her own immigrant family's history, and the result is an autobiography written with the elegance and simplicity of a fine novel. The individual chapters--the ""true stories"" of Gallagher's life--beautifully render her experiences growing up as the child of left-wing Ukrainian migr s in 1940s New York. Discussions about Stalin and Trotsky were the stuff of everyday life; a framed picture of Lenin hung in the attic (which, Gallagher explains, she always thought was a picture of her grandfather). Gallagher recounts anxiously hiding her family's copy of the Communist Daily Worker in the New York Post, as well as her frustrations with Camp Wochica (""Workers' Children's Camp,"" she assures us, ""in case you thought it was your standard inauthentic Indian name""). The family's friends and relatives are as richly vivid as fictional characters: an aunt sells lingerie to prostitutes during the Depression; a family friend is found mysteriously murdered in her bathtub; an uncle recites poetry to his fellow nursing home residents. Gallagher effectively conveys the sense of familial narratives that have been handed--sometimes with great solemnity and at other times carelessly--from one generation to the next. Agent, Georges Borchardt. (Feb. 16) Forecast: Rapturously blurbed by literary luminaries Alice Munro, Susan Minot and James Salter, and supported by author readings in New York City, this resonant memoir is an obvious pick for fans of Jewish autobiography and New York history. If it garners the enthusiastic review attention it deserves in mainstream and Jewish publications, it could break out to wider audiences.
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