We Used to Own the Bronx: Memoirs of a Former Debutante

SUNY Press
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Award-Winning Finalist in the Autobiography/Memoirs category of the “Best Books 2010” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News

FINALIST - 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year in the Autobiography/Memoir Category

"... a literary treat. ... Pell gives us a kind of cultural anthropology of the closest thing in America to a landed gentry." — Wall Street Journal Review by Sol Stern Remembering the Revolution 

An inside story of privilege, inherited wealth, and the bizarre values and customs of the American upper crust.

We Used to Own the Bronx tells the story of a woman born into the proprieties of an East Coast dynasty who nevertheless leaves her world of privilege for a career as an investigative reporter. Recounting her upbringing, Eve Pell offers an inside look at the bizarre values and customs of the American aristocracy, from debutante balls and the belowstairs hierarchy of the servant class to the fanatical pursuit of blood sports and private men’s clubs whose members were cared for like sultans. In the patriarchal world of the upper crust, girls were expected to flatter and defer to boys and men: her scholar-athlete sister was offered a racehorse if she would refuse to attend college. A parade of eccentrics populates the book, from the cockfighting stepfather who ran away from boarding school with a false beard and a stolen motorcycle to the Brahmin great-uncle who secretly organized the servants in Tuxedo Park to vote for Teddy Roosevelt.

But as she moved beyond the narrow world she was expected to inhabit, Pell encountered people and ideas that brought her into conflict with her past. Equally unconventional are the muckrakers and revolutionaries she met in the 1960s and 1970s, and her subsequent adventures and misadventures while working with radical activists to reform the California prison system. As Pell traces her absorbing journey from debutante to working mother, from the upper crust of the East Coast to the radical activists of the West, from a life of wealth and privilege to one of trying to make ends meet, she provides exceptional insight into the prickly and complex issues of social class in America.

“We all know what poverty can do—to individuals, to families, to societies that look the other way … But what about wealth? What can the possession of immense fortune, over time, do to us? Eve Pell knows. Eve Pell, in this riveting new memoir, tells. We should listen.” — Too Much

“[Pell] tells [her] before-and-after story, briskly and with considerable flair … If you’ve ever pressed your nose to the chintz-covered window of Old Money and wished you were born into a great American family, this is the book you need—Pell will take you inside the mansion and share every glorious and terrible secret of the aristocracy.” — HeadButler.com

“In We Used to Own the Bronx, her revealing and riveting memoir, Eve Pell defies the dictates of her social class—to be charming but not to say what she felt—and bares all. She detonates bombshells and unmasks betrayals on almost every page.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“…refreshingly direct … Pell … uses her lively memoir of growing up in aristocratic style to ask a series of provocative questions: Is it possible to choke on a silver spoon? What good is a sense of entitlement? Are riches wasted on the rich? Her candid account of bristling at her birthright transcends the stereotype suggested by the subtitle to divulge the psychic pressures of living with inherited privilege in a meritocracy-mad country … To her lasting credit, We Used to Own the Bronx is a graceful object lesson in how perspective is gained not all at once but by accretion, the reward of years of methodical observation.” — truthdig.com

“…first-rate … absolutely fascinating … We Used to Own the Bronx is written from a rare combination of inside and outside. Both are essential.” — New York Social Diary

“…a literary treat … Pell gives us a kind of cultural anthropology of the closest thing in America to a landed gentry.” — Wall Street Journal

“With cheeky wit and considerable bravery, Pell takes on her upper-crust upbringing of horseback riding and private schools … Readers fascinated by New York history and society will appreciate the entertaining stories of rich eccentrics and social movers and shakers.” — Library Journal

“Eve Pell gives us a fascinating glimpse into a secret world of unfathomable wealth and privilege. Hers is an unexpected and ultimately hopeful journey of rebellion and reconciliation.” — Jane Fonda

“An intriguing look at a world of arcane, white-gloved ritual and great privilege by a writer rebellious enough to leave it behind, wise enough to know that doing so is no quick and simple matter, and aware enough to know that the alternative worlds she discovers have their own moral complexities as well.” — Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and Bury the Chains
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About the author

A journalist, grandmother, and champion age-group runner, Eve Pell has received awards for her outstanding print reporting and television documentaries. Her books include Maximum Security: Letters from Prison, as well as the award-winning The Big ChillHow the Reagan Administration, Corporate America, and Religious Conservatives are Subverting Free Speech and the Public’s Right to Know. She lives in San Francisco.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 19, 2009
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Pages
243
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ISBN
9781438425146
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Rich & Famous
Biography & Autobiography / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In Love, Again, Eve Pell beautifully and thoughtfully concludes that life experience adds dimensions to the art of connection—and that we all stand to learn something from unexpected romance.
 
How do old people meet new loves?
 
Eve Pell was 68 when she convinced a friend to set her up with Sam Hirabayashi. Ten years her senior, Sam, a fellow runner, was handsome and sweet. Soon Eve and Sam were plunged into a giddy romance that began with a movie date. “It was crazy,” Pell writes. “It was wonderful.”
 
Pell wrote about their romance in a New York Times Modern Love column and received a wave of responses from people who recognized their own stories in hers. This thing, this late-in-life love: It’s growing, it’s everywhere, and it’s transformative.
 
In staggering numbers, old people are meeting and falling in love—in senior living facilities, in retirement homes, in bars, in grocery stores, on cruise ships, on the Internet—brazenly, quietly, unexpectedly. People once written off as too old for intimacy are having romances, beginning intense affairs once thought to be for the young.
 
Part memoir, part journey to a new frontier, Love, Again is illuminating and heartwarming. Speaking with poets and artists, a retired nurse and a retired coach, environmentalists, philanthropists, and teachers—couples whose partners’ ages range from 61 to 96—Pell reports on their relationships, from saying hello to knowing they’d found the one, from blending routines and traditions to overcoming judgments and challenges. These widows, widowers, divorcés, and never-marrieds open up about old love versus young, the thrill of sex, and the looming shadow of mortality.
 
At the core of this book is wisdom: what we all can learn from the experience, regardless of age.
 
• Fall in love with who someone is now—not who they someday might be.
• Always be honest, but don’t feel pressure to share everything.
• And most of all: The heart can continue to expand.
 
Advance praise for Love, Again
 
“A heartwarming, eye-opening, life-affirming journey to the final frontier of romance, this is a beautiful book about the possibility of late-in-life love and the life-changing lessons we all can learn from those who have been lucky enough to find it.”—Katie Couric

“Eve Pell’s career as an investigative reporter served her in discovering such couples and learning their stories, which, along with her own love story, she imparts with fluency and zest. Love, Again is a joy to read, full of humor and heart and sweet collective wisdom, a book for all ages.”—Susan Trott, author of the Holy Man Trilogy
 
“I remarried at 75 and have followed one hundred marriages from age 50 on. Eve Pell knows what she is talking about. Her book is touching, eye-opening, inspiring, and wise. In addition, it is beautifully written.”—George E. Vaillant, M.D., author of Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study
 
“In this inspiring exploration of fifteen late-in-life romances, Eve Pell illustrates the human appetite and capacity for romantic love at any age. As these men and women—widowed and divorced, gay and straight—share their stories of forging deep connections in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and, yes, 90s, they deliver a heartwarming message: We are never too old for new love.”—Jill Smolowe, author of Four Funerals and a Wedding: Resilience in a Time of Grief


From the Hardcover edition.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From stand-up comedian, actress, and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, comes The Last Black Unicorn, a sidesplitting, hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays, as fearless as the author herself.

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.

None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.

Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.

By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Root

Chosen by Emma Straub as a Best New Celebrity Memoir

“A book of essays as raw and honest as anyone has ever produced.” — Lena Dunham, Lenny Letter

In the spirit of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist, a powerful collection of essays about gender, sexuality, race, beauty, Hollywood, and what it means to be a modern woman.

One month before the release of the highly anticipated film The Birth of a Nation, actress Gabrielle Union shook the world with a vulnerable and impassioned editorial in which she urged our society to have compassion for victims of sexual violence. In the wake of rape allegations made against director and actor Nate Parker, Union—a forty-four-year-old actress who launched her career with roles in iconic ’90s movies—instantly became the insightful, outspoken actress that Hollywood has been desperately awaiting. With honesty and heartbreaking wisdom, she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault: "It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real."

In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.

New York Times bestselling author, superstar comedian, and Hollywood box office star Kevin Hart turns his immense talent to the written word by writing some words. Some of those words include: the, a, for, above, and even even. Put them together and you have a “hilarious but also heartfelt” (Elle) memoir on survival, success, and the importance of believing in yourself.

The question you’re probably asking yourself right now is: What does Kevin Hart have that a book also has?

According to the three people who have seen Kevin Hart and a book in the same room, the answer is clear:

A book is compact. Kevin Hart is compact.

A book has a spine that holds it together. Kevin Hart has a spine that holds him together.

A book has a beginning. Kevin Hart’s life uniquely qualifies him to write this book by also having a beginning.

It begins in North Philadelphia. He was born an accident, unwanted by his parents. His father was a drug addict who was in and out of jail. His brother was a crack dealer and petty thief. And his mother was overwhelmingly strict, beating him with belts, frying pans, and his own toys.

The odds, in short, were stacked against our young hero. But Kevin Hart, like Ernest Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, and Chocolate Droppa before him, was able to defy the odds and turn it around. In his literary debut, he takes us on a journey through what his life was, what it is today, and how he’s overcome each challenge to become the man he is today.

And that man happens to be the biggest comedian in the world, with tours that sell out football stadiums and films that have collectively grossed over $3.5 billion.

He achieved this not just through hard work, determination, and talent. “Hart is an incredibly magnetic storyteller, on the page as he is onstage, and that’s what shines through [in this] genial, entertaining guide to a life in comedy” (Kirkus Reviews).
This eBook includes the full text of the book plus an exclusive additional chapter from Chip and Joanna that is not found in the hardcover!

Are you ready to see your fixer upper?

These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people?What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.

The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.

They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.

In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover:

The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping babyJoanna’s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their childrenWhen Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreckJoanna’s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful homeHarrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial coupleMemories and photos from Chip and Jo’s weddingThe significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they doThe way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way

And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? “Oh yeah,” says Joanna. “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”

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