cover image Growing Up Bank Street: A Greenwich Village Memoir

Growing Up Bank Street: A Greenwich Village Memoir

Donna Florio. NYU, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-47980-320-0

Florio charms in her debut memoir about a life well-lived on Greenwich Village’s Bank Street. “America would be a far better country if it were more like the old Village,” she writes of the neighborhood, which was full of artists, activists, and celebrities, and which she’s called home since the 1950s. In a series of vignettes, Florio pays homage to her neighbors including activist Bella Abzug, who was famous for her fight for women’s rights, but known to Florio as the vulnerable woman who had a strained relationship with her father, and John Lennon, whom she accidentally poured water on while watering petunias on her fire escape (“John smiled up at me. ‘No worries,’ he said in a soft voice. ‘It’s OK.’ ”). She also recounts interactions with Sid Vicious, the Sex Pistols bass player and a “vague, skinny boy who mumbled proper greetings while his eyes wandered the sky,” and recounts her sorrow at his 1979 death. Florio’s most moving recollections are of cherished friends: the upstairs family who sheltered Florio from her argumentative parents; the poet John Kemmerer, whose work inspired her own; and Broadway dancer Billy Jewell, who shared stories of friends he lost during the 1970s and ’80s AIDS crisis. This sentimental memoir will uplift any reader, no matter where they may call home. (Mar.)