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Books and Hometown Memories: Featuring Andrea

Andrea grew up in Ossining, New York, went to college in Geneva, New York, and has lived in Sarasota for over 40 years.

I was born in the Bronx, raised in Ossining, New York, and spent 2 years at college in Geneva, New York. Ossining, which is the heart of suburbia, was where I went to school. It’s so suburban that scenes from the TV show Mad Men were filmed there. It’s a beautiful town on the Hudson, but it is also a dichotomy. Ossining is home to suburban neighborhoods, but also Sing Sing Prison, or “The Big House.” Geneva has the small-town charm of upstate New York and is “The Lake Trout Capital of the World.” I also consider Sarasota my hometown, since I arrived when I was 20, which is now 47 years ago.

When I think of Ossining and New York City in my teens, I think of The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. Set in the 1970’s, the characters traverse the city, go to sleep-away camp in the country, and go home to suburban homes. Their struggles remind of that particular time and place.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates is also set in suburbia. Although the story is devastating, the setting could be my hometown.

Mohawk by Richard Russo evokes memories of Geneva, and also years of working in restaurants in Sarasota. There is something about the feel of upstate New York, the bars, the booze and owning restaurants that really spoke to me in this novel.

Ahhh, the days of just starting to read John D. MacDonald bring back sweet memories of first living in Florida. 47 years is a long time. Florida has changed a lot. MacDonald saw it coming, but he was unfortunately a voice in the wilderness. A Flash of Green is my favorite MacDonald novel. It’s not a Travis McGee story, but it has great character descriptions, in fact they are brilliant. The plot of fighting developers certainly made sense in 1962 when the novel was first published, and still resonates today.

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