Crossing Ocean Parkway: Readings by an Italian American Daughter

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Growing up an Italian-American in the Bensonhurst neighbourhood of New York city, Marianna De Marco Torgovnick longed for college, culture, and upward mobility. Her daydreams circled around WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) heroes on television - like Robin Hood and the Cartwright family - but in Brooklyn she never encountered any. So she associated moving up with Ocean Parkway, a street that divides the working-class Italian neighbourhood where she was born from the middle-class Jewish neighbourhood into which she married. This book is Torgovnick's unflinching account of crossing cultural boundaries in American life, of what it means to be an Italian American woman who became a scholar and literary critic. Included are autobiographical moments interw oven with engrossing interpretations of American cultural icons from Dr. Dolittle to Lionel Trilling, The Godfather to Camille Paglia. The author's experiences allow her to probe the cultural tensions in America caused by competing ideas of individuality and community, upward mobility and ethnic loyalty, acquisitiveness and spirituality.