This is a memoir about the power of American assimilation and opportunity in the face of persisting refugee realities. Like Isaac Bashevis Singer, Monroe Price recounts the continuing impact of European identities as families, cast from their homes by the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, struggle to find their way in a new and challenging environment. In a series of reflections, Price, who was born to a Jewish family in Vienna in 1938 and left when he was seven months old, seeks to create the Vienna of his infancy, including Jewish life, anti-Semitism, the Anschluss, and Kristallnacht (during which his father was arrested). He shifts to scenes of American socialization in the places he moved with his parents: Macon, Georgia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and the experience of New York City. Through these reflections, Price illuminates ideas about family, religion, friends and schooling as well as deeply personal issues such as home, food and intimacy.
Price’s memoir weaves complicated strands—his Viennese origins, campaigns to distribute Jewish refugees away from New York City, the special qualities of Midwestern Ohio life in the 1950s—and the contrasting patterns of adjustment by different generations in his family in the American landscape. As he traces the particular path of his own life, Price reveals a more universal story of adjustment, and the relationship between a marginal community and the drama of American citizenship.