When I was growing up in Brooklyn, a significant rite of passage for my friends and me was being allowed to ride the New York City subway for the first time without the presence of any of our parental units.
Among the intricacies of subway riding, eagerly dissected by our adolescent set, were the rules associated with subway reading. One had always to consider the impressions created by the selection of reading material, and to choose items that showed one in the best possible light while not drawing too much attention.
But one day, some years later, I inadvertently broke that rule. I took Tillie Olsen with me on the D train, and found myself sobbing uncontrollably on the subway. Continue reading