Eleven Stories High : Growing Up in Stuyvesant Town, 1948-1968
Eleven Stories High is a memoir of a middle-class New York childhood, the perceptions of a girl growing up in a housing project that she deemed a "utopia of the fifties." The story follows the process of memory, rather than the conventions of chronology, and explores the concept of "home," how a place like Stuyvesant Town--impersonal, symmetrical, utilitarian--shapes a childhood. This poignant memoir of life in Stuyvesant Town, a New York City housing project, describes growing up in what the author deems a "utopia of the fifties." Corinne Demas evokes in convincing detail the friendships, foibles, and fantasies of a girl's coming of age in a "vertical" neighborhood of pets, games, elevator rides, and family life. She follows the process of memory, rather than the conventions of chronology, to take us on a vivid journey of the 1950's and 60's America of Halloween costumes, roller skating, the new T.V. culture, high school dances, and music lessons. She lovingly tells of her father--an unconventional dentist--and her mother, both a traditional housewife and a high school biology teacher.
- Hardback | 205 pages
- 158.8 x 236.7 x 18.3mm | 457.84g
- 01 Sep 2000
- State University of New York Press
- Albany, NY, United States
- Total Illustrations: 0
..".the peaceful urban idyll of Corinne Demas..." -- The New York Observer ..".evokes a girl's coming of age in New York City's planned 'utopian' community." -- Publishers Weekly "She writes with affection and humor about her years at 524 East 20th Street and her family, friends and neighbors." -- Peter Cooper Village/ Stuyvesant Town News "This is an irresistible memoir. The book swarms with the sort of everyday detail that not only makes a life memorable but that asks the reader to savor rather than reject it. I smiled on every page." -- Anne Bernays, author of Professor Romeo "Combines a startling immediacy of presentation with the inevitable distancing of retrospection....Eleven Stories High is richly layered, fondly written, and true in the necessary way of art." -- Sven Birkerts, author of Readings "Corinne Demas is a wonderful storyteller, and her ability to render anecdotes about times and places gone by--to conjure up the tastes and smells and details of a vanished world--is quite remarkable. She has managed to give us a piece of urban history set within the framework of her own family history. She has also given us a stunningly detailed portrait of a most specific urban culture within a narrative that is itself a compelling story of one young woman's coming of age." -- Jay Neugeboren, author of Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness, and Survival: A Memoir "Demas has found a perfect way to divide up her ostensible subjects--elevators, stores, games, school--to give us a very precise picture of her life in a vertical neighborhood, yet each opens out, by virtue of the author's ingeniousness and candidness, into a much larger consideration of family, community, city. At the same time, she brings her family to us with remarkable clarity. This is a sociologically dead-on representation of mid-century urban life that is neither Leave it to Beaver nor Ozzie and Harriet in its simplifications nor Manchild in the Promised Land in its accusatory grimness." -- Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After "Corinne Demas's Eleven Stories High is a remarkable portrait of a vanished world but not a vanished place. The social history it captures is important, presenting the story of a transitional generation of women, suspended between the quietism of the American Dream of the post-war era of the 1950s and the tumultuous upheavals to come at the end of the sixties. A vivid and paradoxical picture of both the urban American and domestic life once lived, captured by a writer of lyric strengths and fastidious intellect." -- William O'Rourke, author of Signs of the Literary Times: Essays, Reviews, Profiles 1970-1992 "A marvelous memoir. I loved every word...Stuyvesant Town, with its unexpected charm, is as strong a character as any I've encountered in personal narrative. Demas's portrait of her mother is exquisite." -- Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife "Eleven Stories High is a marvelously sensible, observant, honest, and often amusing portrait of a very particular place that manages at the same time to conjure the experiences of many contented children growing up in many kinds of places." -- Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After "A very meticulous writer, steady and believable. Her powers of recall are extraordinary. I regard this as an important record of contemporary life, as well as a most interesting coming-of-age memoir." -- Shirley Abbott, author of Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South
About Corinne Demas
Corinne Demas is Professor of English at Mt. Holyoke College. She is the author of a novel, two short story collections, and many children's books, most recently If Ever I Return Again.