Saturday, June 2, 2018

Barren Island

Losses. One of my fondest childhood memories was driving from our apartment in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn to our bungalow in Roxbury on the Rockaway peninsula. I remember looking to the west from Flatbush Avenue before reaching Floyd Bennett Field and seeing a farmer plowing a field: an unusual site for Brooklyn in the 1950s. So when I read Carol Zoref’s novel titled, Barren Island, and learned about an island in the salt marches off Floyd Bennett Field, I wondered if I should have been looking to the east, especially while crossing the bridge. This finely written novel is full of losses of all sorts from the monumental to the minor. An isolated group of people live and work in the stench of a factory that renders dead horses and other animals into glue and fertilizer. The narrator, Marta Eisenstein, describes at age eighty her memories of these desolate places that have long since been demolished. Life between the world wars of the twentieth century were dominated by the losses of the depression. For Marta, the losses are as real in her memory as they were when they first occurred. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Barren Island from

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