A "tattoo" is a bugle call, a summoning that lingers in the ear.
Although Hortense Calisher's family eventually migrated north to
New York City, the echoes of their days as a slave-owning Jewish
family in the South still resonate with this acclaimed author, who
uncovers a part of history never before so strongly and tenderly
Calisher traces her family's years in the South and their
transformative move up north, beautifully evoking the mood and
texture of the early twentieth century. Her Virginia-born father, a
perfume manufacturer, was twenty-two years older than her
German-born mother. Marked by longer-than-normal gaps between the
generations and conflicts between the mercantile and the scholarly,
the "American" and the emigre, her family is characterized by
Calisher as "volcanic to meditative to fruitfully dull, and bound
to produce someone interested in character, society, and time."
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