Brooklyn

Colm Toibin, Author . Scribner $25 (262p) ISBN 978-1-4391-3831-1

Signature

Reviewed by Maureen Howard

Colm Tóibín’s engaging new novel, Brooklyn , will not bring to mind the fashionable borough of recent years nor Bed-Stuy beleaguered with the troubles of a Saturday night. Tóibín has revived the Brooklyn of an Irish-Catholic parish in the ’50s, a setting appropriate to the narrow life of Eilis Lacey. Before Eilis ships out for a decent job in America, her village life is sketched in detail. The shops, pub, the hoity-toity and plainspoken people of Enniscorthy have such appeal on the page, it does seem a shame to leave. But how will we share the girl’s longing for home, if home is not a gabby presence in her émigré tale? Tóibín’s maneuvers draw us to the bright girl with a gift for numbers. With a keen eye, Eilis surveys her lonely, steady-on life: her job in the dry goods store, the rules and regulations of her rooming house—ladies only. The competitive hustle at the parish dances are so like the ones back home—it’s something of a wonder I did not give up on the gentle tattle of her story, run a Netflix of the feline power struggle in Claire Booth Luce’s The Women . Tóibín rescues his homesick shopgirl from narrow concerns, gives her a stop-by at Brooklyn College, a night course in commercial law. Her instructor is Joshua Rosenblum. Buying his book, the shopkeeper informs her, “At least we did that, we got Rosenblum out.”

“You mean in the war?”

His reply when she asks again: “In the holocaust, in the churben .”

The scene is eerie, falsely naïve. We may accept what a village girl from Ireland, which remained neutral during the war, may not have known, but Tóibín’s delivery of the racial and ethnic discoveries of a clueless young woman are disconcerting. Eilis wonders if she should write home about the Jews, the Poles, the Italians she encounters, but shouldn’t the novelist in pursuing those postwar years in Brooklyn, in the Irish enclave of the generous Father Flood, take the mike? The Irish vets I knew when I came to New York in the early ’50s had been to that war; at least two I raised a glass with at the White Horse were from Brooklyn. When the stage is set for the love story, slowly and carefully as befits his serious girl, Tóibín is splendidly in control of Eilis’s and Tony’s courtship. He’s Italian, you see, of a poor, caring family. I wanted to cast Brooklyn , with Rosalind Russell perfect for Rose, the sporty elder sister left to her career in Ireland. Can we get Philip Seymour Hoffman into that cassock again? J. Carol Naish, he played homeboy Italian, not the mob. I give away nothing in telling that the possibility of Eilis reclaiming an authentic and spirited life in Ireland turns Brooklyn into a stirring and satisfying moral tale. Tóibín, author of The Master , a fine-tuned novel on the lonely last years of Henry James, revisits, diminuendo, the wrenching finale of The Portrait of a Lady . What the future holds for Eilis in America is nothing like Isabel Archer’s return to the morally corrupt Osmond. The decent fellow awaits. Will she be doomed to a tract house of the soul on Long Island? I hear John McCormick take the high note—alone in the gloaming with the shadows of the past —as Tóibín’s good girl contemplates the lost promise of Brooklyn.

Maureen Howard's The Rags of Time, the last season of her quartet of novels based on the four seasons, will be published by Viking in October.

Reviewed on: 03/23/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Hardcover - 251 pages - 978-0-670-91812-6
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EVAL ERROR: syntax error at (eval 1452) line 207, near ""Read more about "$ENV"
Global symbol "$author" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 207.
Global symbol "$html_title" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 211.
Global symbol "$html_title" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 211.
Global symbol "$default_title" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 211.
Global symbol "$meta_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 212.
Global symbol "$meta_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 212.
Global symbol "$default_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 212.
Global symbol "$meta_keywords" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 213.
Global symbol "$meta_keywords" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 213.
Global symbol "$default_keywords" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 213.
Global symbol "$html_title" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 215.
Global symbol "$meta_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 216.
Global symbol "$meta_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 217.
Global symbol "$meta_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 218.
Global symbol "$meta_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 219.
Global symbol "$meta_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 220.
Global symbol "$twitter_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 221.
Global symbol "$twitter_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 222.
Global symbol "$twitter_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 223.
Global symbol "$twitter_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 224.
Global symbol "$meta_keywords" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 225.
Global symbol "$html_title" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 227.
Global symbol "$meta_keywords" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 228.
Global symbol "$meta_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 229.
Global symbol "$last_modified" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 230.
Global symbol "$last_modified" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 231.
Global symbol "$html_title" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 234.
Global symbol "$default_image" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 235.
Global symbol "$meta_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 236.
Global symbol "$twitter_creator" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 241.
Global symbol "$twitter_creator" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 242.
Global symbol "$twitter_title" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 244.
Global symbol "$twitter_description" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 245.
Global symbol "$default_image" requires explicit package name at (eval 1452) line 246.
syntax error at (eval 1452) line 260, near "}
 }"
(eval 1452) has too many errors.

Code:
line 1: package tmpevalpackage;
line 2: sub doEval { 
line 3: 	my(@sel,%data,$html_title,$meta_description,$meta_keywords,$default_title,$default_description,$default_keywords,$last_modified);
line 4: 	my($twitter_creator,$twitter_title,$twitter_description);
line 5: 	
line 6: 	$default_title = 'Book Reviews, Bestselling Books & Publishing Business News | Publishers Weekly';
line 7: 	$default_keywords = 'book news, book reviews, bestselling books, book bestsellers, book publishing, best selling books, list of books, book business, publishing business';
line 8: 	$default_description = 'Publishers Weekly is the international news website of book publishing and bookselling including business news, reviews, bestseller lists, commentaries and more.';
line 9: 	
line 10: 	my $default_image = "http://www.publishersweekly.com/images/data/IMG/img/000/000/1-3.PNG";
line 11: 	
line 12: 	# try the topic (or subtopic)
line 13: 	if($LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'TOPIC_TREE.nickname'}) {
line 14: 		&Database::GetParentRow($LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'TOPIC_TREE.nickname'},\%data);
line 15: 		if($data{'html_title'}) { $html_title = $data{'html_title'}; };
line 16: 		if($data{'meta_description'}) { $meta_description = $data{'meta_description'}; };
line 17: 		if($data{'meta_keywords'}) { $meta_keywords = $data{'meta_keywords'}; };
line 18: 
line 19: 		# we are in a subtopic get the topic and fill in missing fields
line 20: 		if($LayoutManager::url_values{'TOPIC'}) { 
line 21: 			&Database::Select('TOPIC_TREE','nickname',$LayoutManager::url_values{'TOPIC'},\@sel);
line 22: 			if(@sel == 1) {
line 23: 				&Database::GetRow($sel[0],'TOPIC_TREE',\%data);
line 24: 				if($data{'html_title'} && !$html_title) { $html_title = $data{'html_title'}; }
line 25: 				if($data{'meta_description'} && !$meta_description) { $meta_description = $data{'meta_description'}; }
line 26: 				if($data{'meta_keywords'} && !$meta_keywords) { $meta_keywords = $data{'meta_keywords'}; }
line 27: 			}
line 28: 		}
line 29: 	}
line 30: 
line 31: 	# fill in missing info from page
line 32: 	if($LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'PAGE.description'}) {
line 33: 		&Database::GetParentRow($LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'PAGE.description'},\%data);
line 34: 		if(!$html_title) { $html_title = $data{'html_title'}; };
line 35: 		if(!$meta_description) { $meta_description = $data{'meta_description'}; };
line 36: 		if(!$meta_keywords) { $meta_keywords = $data{'meta_keywords'}; };
line 37: 	}
line 38: 	
line 39: 	# article takes precidence over topic and subtopic
line 40: 	if($LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'ARTICLE.nickname'}) {
line 41: 		&Database::GetParentRow($LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'ARTICLE.nickname'},\%data);
line 42: 		$html_title = $data{'headline'};
line 43: 		if($data{'title_web'}) { $html_title = $data{'title_web'}; $twitter_title = $data{'title_web'}; };
line 44: 		if($data{'html_title'}) { $html_title = $data{'html_title'}; };
line 45: 		if($data{'abstract_web'}) { $meta_description = $data{'abstract_web'}; $twitter_description = $data{'abstract_web'}; };
line 46: 		if($data{'meta_description'}) { $meta_description = $data{'meta_description'}; };
line 47: 		if($data{'meta_keywords'}) { $meta_keywords = $data{'meta_keywords'}; };
line 48: 		$last_modified = &GetLastModified($data{'pub_date'});
line 49: 		
line 50: 		my($canonical,%topic_data,%sub_topic_data,%issue_data);
line 51: 		if($data{'the_topic'}) {
line 52: 			&Database::GetRow($data{'the_topic'},'TOPIC_TREE',\%sub_topic_data);
line 53: 			&Database::GetParentRow($sub_topic_data{'parent'},\%topic_data);
line 54: 			$canonical = "http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/$topic_data{'nickname'}/$sub_topic_data{'nickname'}/article/$data{'nickname'}.html";
line 55: 		}
line 56: 		else {
line 57: 			if($data{'issue'}) {
line 58: 				&Database::GetRow($data{'issue'},'ISSUE',\%issue_data);
line 59: 				$canonical = "http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/$issue_data{'date'}/$data{'nickname'}.html";
line 60: 			}
line 61: 		}
line 62: 		if($data{'the_photo'}) {
line 63: 			my(%image_data);
line 64: 			&Database::GetRow($data{'the_photo'},'ARTICLE_PHOTO',\%image_data);
line 65: 			if($image_data{'photo__file'}) {
line 66: 				$default_image = "http://www.publishersweekly.com/images/data/$image_data{'photo__file'}";
line 67: 			}
line 68: 		}
line 69: 		if($canonical) {
line 70: 			&Templates::SetMeta("<link rel=\"canonical\" href=\"$canonical\" />");
line 71: 		}
line 72: 	}
line 73: 
line 74: 	# reviews by ISBN
line 75: 	if($LayoutManager::url_values{'ISBN'}) {
line 76: 		my($isbn,@sel,$work,%issue_data);
line 77: 		$isbn = $LayoutManager::url_values{'ISBN'};
line 78: 		
line 79: 		$isbn =~ s/\-//g;
line 80: 		$default_image = "https://booklife.com/image-factory/http/localhost/amazongetcover/$isbn.jpg/w204.jpg";
line 81: 
line 82: 		&Database::Select('WORK_INSTANCE','isbn_std',$isbn,\@sel);
line 83: 
line 84: 		if(@sel) {
line 85: 			$work = $sel[0];
line 86: 			@sel = ();
line 87: 			&Database::Select('REVIEW','book',$work,\@sel);
line 88: 			
line 89: 			# my $root = "images/cached/INGRAM";
line 90: 			# my $row_path = $isbn;
line 91: 			# $row_path =~ s/^(...)(...)(...)(.*)/$1\/$2\/$3/;
line 92: 
line 93: 			# if(-e "/disk02/PW/htdocs/$root/$row_path/$isbn\.jpg"){
line 94: 			#	 $default_image = "http://www.publishersweekly.com/$root/$row_path/$isbn\.jpg";
line 95: 			# }
line 96: 			
line 97: 			if(@sel) {
line 98: 				&Database::FetchRow($sel[0],'REVIEW',\%data);
line 99: 				my($tmp) = $data{'info_line'};
line 100: 				$tmp =~ s/<[^>]+>//g;
line 101: 				$html_title = "$data{'category'} Book Review: $data{'title'} by $tmp";
line 102: 				$meta_description = substr($data{'body'},0,200);
line 103: 				if($data{'pub_date'}) {
line 104: 					$last_modified = &GetLastModified($data{'pub_date'});
line 105: 				}
line 106: 				else {
line 107: 					&Database::GetRow($data{'issue-UNRESOLVED'},'ISSUE',\%issue_data);
line 108: 					$last_modified = &GetLastModified($issue_data{'date'});
line 109: 				}
line 110: 
line 111: 				$twitter_creator = '@publisherswkly';
line 112: 				$twitter_title = $data{'title'};
line 113: 				$twitter_description = $meta_description;
line 114: 			}
line 115: 		}
line 116: 	}
line 117: 	
line 118: 	# reviews
line 119: 	if($LayoutManager::url_resolved_rows{'REVIEW.nickname'}) {
line 120: 		my(%issue_data);
line 121: 		&Database::FetchRow($LayoutManager::url_resolved_rows{'REVIEW.nickname'},'REVIEW',\%data);
line 122: 		my($tmp) = $data{'info_line'};
line 123: 		$tmp =~ s/<[^>]+>//g;
line 124: 		$html_title = "$data{'category'} Review: $data{'title'} by $tmp";
line 125: 		$meta_description = substr($data{'body'},0,200);
line 126: 		
line 127: 		$twitter_creator = '@publisherswkly';
line 128: 		$twitter_title = $data{'title'};
line 129: 		$twitter_description = $meta_description;
line 130: 		
line 131: 		if($data{'pub_date'}) {
line 132: 			$last_modified = &GetLastModified($data{'pub_date'});
line 133: 		}
line 134: 		else {
line 135: 			&Database::GetRow($data{'issue-UNRESOLVED'},'ISSUE',\%issue_data);
line 136: 			$last_modified = &GetLastModified($issue_data{'date'});
line 137: 		}
line 138: 
line 139: 		if($data{'book-UNRESOLVED'}){
line 140: 			my (%instance_data);
line 141: 			&Database::GetRow($data{'book-UNRESOLVED'},'WORK_INSTANCE',\%instance_data);
line 142: 			
line 143: 			my $tmpisbn = $instance_data{'isbn_std'};
line 144: 			$tmpisbn =~ s/\-//g;
line 145: 			$default_image = "https://booklife.com/image-factory/http/localhost/amazongetcover/$tmpisbn.jpg/w204.jpg";
line 146: 
line 147: 			# my $root = "images/cached/INGRAM";
line 148: 			# my $row_path = $instance_data{'isbn_std'};
line 149: 			# $row_path =~ s/^(...)(...)(...)(.*)/$1\/$2\/$3/;
line 150: 	
line 151: 			# if(-e "/disk02/PW/htdocs/$root/$row_path/$instance_data{'isbn_std'}\.jpg"){
line 152: 			# 	$default_image = "http://www.publishersweekly.com/$root/$row_path/$instance_data{'isbn_std'}\.jpg";
line 153: 			# }
line 154: 		}
line 155: 	}
line 156: 
line 157: 	if($Templates::in{'channel'} && $Templates::in{'podcast'}) {
line 158: 		my(%podcast_data);
line 159: 		&Database::GetRow($Templates::in{'podcast'},'PODCAST',\%podcast_data);
line 160: 		$html_title = $podcast_data{'title'};
line 161: 		if($podcast_data{'description'}) { $meta_description = $podcast_data{'description'}; }
line 162: 		if($podcast_data{'image__file'}) {
line 163: 			$default_image = "http://www.publishersweekly.com/images/data/$podcast_data{'image__file'}";
line 164: 		}
line 165: 		$last_modified = &GetLastModified($podcast_data{'date_posted'});
line 166: 	}
line 167: 	
line 168: 	if($Templates::path =~ /\/bookit\//) {
line 169: 		if($Templates::in{'record'}) {
line 170: 			my(%data);
line 171: 			&Database::GetRow($Templates::in{'record'},'MARKETING_CALL',\%data);
line 172: 			$html_title = "$data{'headline'} | Publishers Weekly";
line 173: 		}
line 174: 		else {
line 175: 			$html_title = "BookIt | Publishers Weekly";	
line 176: 		}
line 177: 	}
line 178: 	if($Templates::path =~ /\/newsbrief\//) {
line 179: 		if($Templates::in{'record'}) {
line 180: 			my(%data);
line 181: 			&Database::GetRow($Templates::in{'record'},'NEWS_BRIEFS',\%data);
line 182: 			$html_title = "$data{'headline'}";
line 183: 			$twitter_title = "$data{'headline'}";
line 184: 			$meta_description = "$data{'abstract'}";
line 185: 			$twitter_description = "$data{'abstract'}";
line 186: 			if($data{'image__file'}) {
line 187: 				$default_image = "http://www.publishersweekly.com/images/data/$data{'image__file'}";
line 188: 			}
line 189: 		}
line 190: 		else {
line 191: 			$html_title = "BookIt | Publishers Weekly";	
line 192: 		}
line 193: 	}
line 194: 
line 195: 	if($Templates::path =~ /\/charlie\//) {
line 196: 			$html_title = "Publishers Weekly's Tribute to Freedom of Expression";
line 197: 			$twitter_title = "Publishers Weekly's Tribute to Freedom of Expression";
line 198: 			$meta_description = "Find out how to participate in a special section of the January 19 issue of Publishers Weekly and raise money for international nonprofits dedicated to freedom of expression.";
line 199: 			$twitter_description = "Find out how to participate in a special section of the January 19 issue of Publishers Weekly and raise money for international nonprofits dedicated to freedom of expression.";
line 200: 	}
line 201: 	
line 202: 	if($Templates::path =~ /\/authorpage\//) {
line 203: 		my $author = $LayoutManager::url_values{'AUTHORNAME'};
line 204: 		$author =~ s/-/ /g;
line 205: 		$author =~ s/([\w']+)/\u\L$1/g;
line 206: 		$html_title = "Books by $author and Complete Book Reviews";
line 207: 		$meta_description = "Read more about "" and other books by $author";
line 208: 	}
line 209: 
line 210: 	# use defailts is nothing else found
line 211: 	if(!$html_title) { $html_title = $default_title; };
line 212: 	if(!$meta_description) { $meta_description = $default_description; };
line 213: 	if(!$meta_keywords) { $meta_keywords = $default_keywords; };
line 214: 	
line 215: 	$html_title =~ s/\"//g;
line 216: 	$meta_description =~ s/\"//g;
line 217: 	$meta_description =~ s/<\/[^>]*>//g;
line 218: 	$meta_description =~ s/<[^>]*>//g;
line 219: 	$meta_description =~ s/<\/[^>]*//g;
line 220: 	$meta_description =~ s/<[^>]*//g;
line 221: 	$twitter_description =~ s/<\/[^>]*>//g;		
line 222: 	$twitter_description =~ s/<[^>]*>//g;
line 223: 	$twitter_description =~ s/<\/[^>]*//g;		
line 224: 	$twitter_description =~ s/<[^>]*//g;		
line 225: 	$meta_keywords =~ s/\"//g;
line 226: 	
line 227: 	&Templates::SetTitle($html_title);
line 228: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta name=\"keywords\" content=\"$meta_keywords\">");
line 229: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta name=\"description\" content=\"$meta_description\">");
line 230: 	if($last_modified) {
line 231: 		&Templates::SetMeta("<meta http-equiv=\"last-modified\" content=\"$last_modified\">");	
line 232: 	}
line 233: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta property=\"og:type\" content=\"article\"/>"); 
line 234: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta property=\"og:title\" content=\"$html_title\"/>"); 
line 235: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta property=\"og:image\" content=\"$default_image\"/>"); 
line 236: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta property=\"og:description\" content=\"$meta_description\"/>");
line 237: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta property=\"og:site_name\" content=\"PublishersWeekly.com\"/>"); 
line 238: 
line 239: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta name=\"twitter:card\" content=\"summary\"/>");		
line 240: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta name=\"twitter:site\" content=\"\@publisherswkly\"/>");		
line 241: 	if($twitter_creator){
line 242: 		&Templates::SetMeta("<meta name=\"twitter:creator\" content=\"$twitter_creator\"/>");			
line 243: 	}
line 244: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta name=\"twitter:title\" content=\"$twitter_title\"/>");
line 245: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta name=\"twitter:description\" content=\"$twitter_description\"/>");			
line 246: 	&Templates::SetMeta("<meta name=\"twitter:image\" content=\"$default_image\"/>"); 
line 247: 
line 248: 	
line 249: 	sub GetLastModified {
line 250: 		my($timestamp) = @_;
line 251: 		
line 252: 		my($mod);
line 253: 		
line 254: 		if(length($timestamp > 8)) {
line 255: 			$mod = substr($timestamp,0,4) . '-' . substr($timestamp,4,2) . '-' . substr($timestamp,6,2);
line 256: 		}
line 257: 		
line 258: 		return $mod;
line 259: 	}
line 260:  };
line 261: &doEval();
line 262: 1;