cover image Walking Broad: Looking for the Heart of Brotherly Love

Walking Broad: Looking for the Heart of Brotherly Love

Bruce Buschel, . . Simon & Schuster, $23 (222pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-9284-9

After living in New York for 25 years, writer Buschel returned to his native Philadelphia to explore the city from the perspective of a place of “enchantment” from his youth: Broad Street, a 13-mile stretch starting near the northern su-burbs and running through “the squalor of North Philly to City Hall and along the theaters and hotels of Center City down to Little Italy.” Block by block, mile by mile, Buschel explores how the street—and by extension the city itself—has changed since his youth, presenting fascinating glimpses of current Broad Street residents in action, such as the owner of a fast-food joint that serves hoagies and cheesesteaks. But Buschel also argues that nothing has really changed about the city’s soul: to be a Philadelphian is to be “perpetually mildly depressed and almost happy to be so,” which affects everything from the city’s politics (“a steady diet of civic shame and invective”) to sports (fans “love to complain”). This painfully honest and blunt memoir reveals how Buschel’s love-hate relationship with the city is inextricably connected to his painful Broad Street youth: the death of his father when Buschel was three, his troubled relationship with his hard-working and hard-drinking mother and the abuse he suffered after being sent at age seven to a city boarding school for orphans. (Aug.)