Flatbush Odyssey: A Journey Through the Heart of Brooklyn

Allen Abel, Author
Allen Abel, Author McClelland & Stewart $22.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7710-0703-3
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-0-7710-0704-0
Paperback - 392 pages - 978-0-7710-0707-1
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Abel, a middle-aged TV reporter in Toronto, returned to his boyhood home to traverse Flatbush Avenue, the main boulevard through ``renowned, hilarious, homely, devastated, bucolic, seething Brooklyn.'' His episodic report--insightful, entertaining and troubling--is interspersed with mostly amusing scenes involving his redoubtable mother, retaining her rent-controlled apartment in the once-Jewish neighborhood of Flatbush now populated by Caribbean immigrants, and his fellow-touring sister, aka ``Little Debbie.'' Though Abel, a reporter turned urban Dante, exhibits a bit too much white middle-class paranoia, he has great sympathy for a benighted borough of two million, lacking hotels and interstate train service, its downtown shopping bazaar that could be ``Sarawak or Panama City.'' He deftly captures several scenes: a tour with wary transit cops; inspecting an abandoned, formerly opulant movie palace; visiting an adult class for ``Correcting Your Accent.'' And he meets interesting folk: the sole black Lubavitcher Jew; the Guyanese woman whose bakery/restaurant symbolizes the resilence of the Flatbush neighborhood; an Afghan immigrant happily wed to a Dominican. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
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