Richard Grossinger, an anthropologist by training, a cultural rebel by inclination, and supposed heir apparent to the great, eponymous Catskill resort by birth, presents an intense, personal story in the form of a "nonfiction novel." Grossinger recounts old dreams, lists every college course in which he enrolled, and enumerates the courses he taught. Then there's the tarot, tai chi, and homeopathic studies; the poets and baseball heroes; the shamans and Edgar Cayce; the UFOs and monuments on Mars. He recalls his mean mother and painfully troubled brother, as well as multiple fathers and a phalanx of counterculture colleagues. Often it sounds like a transcript from an analyst's couch. Still, Out of Babylon
is a well-written personal story, ultimately sad and disquieting because it rings true.
"In this mesmerizing, Proustian evocation of life in the contrasting, yet overlapping, worlds of Manhattan's Upper East and West Sides, Goddard College, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Borscht Belt, Richard Grossinger provides anyone who's ever spent time in those heady milieus--particularly at Grossinger's, his family's hotel--with many savory Madeleines. At once ironic observer and dynamic participant, he records the goings-on with a lively balance of satire and sentiment, and exposes the myth of the so-called privileged childhood where all too often material comfort masks not-so-subtle abuse and deepest deprivation."
-Martha Mendelsohn, Manhattan correspondent for The Jewish Week