Recent books by local writers examine life in New York City, Cape Cod and during Neanderthal days.
Skip Rozin of Harwich, who made a career as a freelance writer in publications as diverse as Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and Audubon, has now turned his considerable talents to memoir in “The View from Apartment Four: On Loving and Leaving New York” (77 Street Press, 2019).
At the heart of the memoir is Rozin’s one-bedroom apartment on West 77th Street in Manhattan which, under rent control, initially cost him $68.85 a month—a bargain even in the fall of 1965 when he moved in. The loss of the apartment was the catalyst for writing the memoir.
“Losing my New York City apartment in 2011 after 46 years of rent-controlled bliss so traumatized me that I felt moved to document the event,” Rozin said in an email interview last week. “It was, after all, a classic New York experience, relatable by all those other people who moved to the city for a certain amount of time—or wished to—to absorb all that New York experience and ambiance then for one reason or another moved on.”
During the bulk of his adult life—from a single young man in his 20s learning to be a writer up to supporting a family of six in his 50s and 60s—“the only stable factor in all that change was my apartment on West 77th Street, second floor front.”
Losing it was a huge trauma.
In 1991, when Rozin moved to Orleans from New York, he and his wife Julie were the parents of four children—a daughter, Rebecca, and then triplets Matthew, Alex and Jake, born in 1989. Still, he retained the inexpensive apartment although residency was a requirement.
The Rozin family’s trajectory from Manhattanites to Cape Codders had a parallel a generation earlier. In the 1950s the freelance writer Scott Corbett and his family made a similar move. Corbett had moved to New York City after serving in World War II and in 1950 published “The Reluctant Landlord,” a novel about a family’s experience owning a rundown New York City apartment building. A couple of years later Corbett, his wife and his daughter Janie moved from Manhattan to Quivet Neck in Dennis. “We Chose Cape Cod” is Corbett’s classic account of that move and coping with the natives. And while Cape Cod of the 21st century is more cosmopolitan than Cape Cod of the 1950s, the quiet of the off-season can take some getting used to. Ultimately the Corbetts decamped to Providence, R.I. Rozin and his wife Julie divorced; the four children grew up and scattered. Rozin is still here.
Rozin offers interesting observations on the Cape’s strong sense of community. “Those early years had a Norman Rockwell quality, with scenes that included outings with the Brownies and Cub Scouts, attending parades during the day on July Fourth and fireworks at night, and pulling their albino ferret Joey on a red wagon for the annual ‘Most Unusual Pet’ competition,” he says.
“Most Rockwellian” was the sell-out lemonade stand the children ran on the road to Nauset Beach in July and August.
As an adult Rozin, too, came to feel he was a part of the Cape community. A butcher at Stop and Shop once gave him a striped bass. And the wine manager at Friends Market stepped in with a personalized recommendation. When Rozin discovered the store was out of French reds, he considered a California zinfandel. “‘Not for you,’ said the manager with surprising confidence, and directed me to a Bordeaux packaged for the 2016 Ryder Cup. The caddy-and-golf-bag image on the bottle put off customers, he explained, resulting in the market reducing the $20 wine to $5. I tried one, and returned the next day for a case.”
“The View from Apartment Four” is available on Amazon.com.
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Beth Meigs, a prolific South Chatham author, is back with the fourth installment of her series set in a prehistoric era and told in the voice of a Neanderthal named Tris.
The latest book is “The Dreamer IV: The Cave of Bones” (2019). Meigs, who writes under the name E.A. Meigs, launched her series with “The Dreamer: The Beginning” (2016). She continued with “The Dreamer II: The Gathering” (2017) and “The Dreamer III: The People of the Wolves” (2018).
The setting is 40,000 BCE, when one-third of the earth’s surface is hidden under a thick layer of ice. The Neanderthals lead lives that, as Meigs writes, “would not have been so different from ours: sharing care and concern for loved ones, enduring all life’s hardships, and reveling in serendipitous moments of love, beauty, and joy when they grace us with their presence.”
At the start of the novel Tris is with his mate Morning Star. The pair are now the parents of two toddlers. Not to give anything away, the novel revolves around the struggles of a small group of people to survive in extremely harsh conditions. Yet survive they do. As in the previous novels, Meigs teaches us a great deal about life c. 40,000 BCE along the way. Meigs’ fifth installment, “The Dreamer V: The Blood-Red Skies,” is due out in the summer of 2020.
To buy Meigs’s trilogy, visit www.dreamerliteraryproductions.com.
<Caption>Harwich resident Skip Rozin, author of “The View from Apartment Four: On Loving and Leaving New York.”