New PDF release: A Walker in the City

By Alfred Kazin

Kazin's memorable description of his lifestyles as a tender guy as he makes the adventure from Brooklyn to "americanca"-the higher international that starts on the different finish of the subway in long island. A vintage portrayal of the Jewish immigrant tradition of the Thirties. Drawings through Marvin Bileck.

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And sets to work. Pulls off the kidney and kidney fat with a single yank. Gets in and quickly carves out the tenderloin nestled in under the spine, tosses it to the table. With thick but quick fingers, he counts five ribs down from the shoulder. Works his knife tip intricately between those two vertebrae, then, once they’re separated, slices the shoulder away from the loin with one sweeping pistol-grip cut, straight down to the table. Picks up the butcher saw, like a hacksaw writ large, and with three swipes cuts across the ribs a couple of inches out from the triangular column of meat that runs along the rib cage’s outer curve, against the backbone.

I keep lighting up the screen and scrutinizing it for bars, but it’s no-go. The air breezes in through my rolled-down windows, warm and smelling heavily of honeysuckle and freshly cut grass, rather than the diesel fumes and sour chemical smoke that clung to my nostrils during the run down the turnpike. It calms me. I breathe deeply. It’s been a frustrating few months. • • • I GUESS the truth is that butchers intimidate the hell out of me. I’ve long had a bit of a thing for them, akin to the way many women feel about firefighters.

I hold it as if it were a bicycle handle, the base of the hook emerging from between my index and middle fingers. With it I can get a sure grasp on the bone, and a means to turn gravity to my advantage. (Funny, about meat hooks. I’ve had the phrase meat hooks in my vocabulary for as long as I can remember, accompanied by the vision of a broad-chested, letter-jacketed thug pawing at a comely bobby-soxer. And I never gave the origin of the word any thought; I think I was picturing fleshy, too-big mitt-hands.

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A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin

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