Gilbert Sorrentino: The Lost Laureate of Brooklyn

1960s: Days of Rage


“The last thing Gilbert Sorrentino did before he left California was sell his car. The novelist, a favorite of other writers if not the average American reader, called it the happiest day of his life: like many a native New Yorker, Sorrentino didn’t drive, not really. He had finally learned at the age of 52, the year before the born-and-bred Brooklynite and long-time Gothamite took a job teaching writing at Stanford. He stayed there 20 years, though his novels never lost their disparaging references to California, its culture and its weather. When he retired from teaching in 2002, he did something most people of his generation who left Brooklyn never did — he came back, back to Bay Ridge, the neighborhood where he’d grown up, the childhood setting that had occupied much of his literary imagination. Most people who have heard of that guitar pick-shaped neighborhood in the southwest corner of Brooklyn…

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