A Brooklyn Memoir is an attempt to make sense of a confusing past that for most of my life I pretended didn’t exist. The seeds of A Brooklyn Memoir can be found in the opening pages of my previous book, Beaver Street—a description of the scene in my father’s candy store in 1961. As I wrote those pages, I knew that I was only scratching the surface, and that whatever was happening in Flatbush in the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, from the final days of the Brooklyn Dodgers to the arrival of the Beatles, was rich material that demanded further exploration. So I wrote down everything I could remember about that time and place, and when I looked back at the 400 single-spaced pages of notes, fragments, anecdotes, and ideas that had accumulated, what jumped out at me were Nazis—they were everywhere, like in the souvenirs my father brought home from the war and in the numbers on the arms of my neighbors. In one way or another, it was Nazis and the Holocaust that provided much of the inspiration I needed to write this book. [This is drawn from “Afterword: Personal Nazis”]
Also, through my research I met a former Mossad agent, Avner Avraham, who was a consultant for Operation Finale, the movie about Eichmann’s capture, starring Ben Kingsley as the Nazi war criminal. Eichmann’s capture plays a major part in my book. Shortly after that, I was in Buenos Aires when the movie was being filmed. Avner and I spent time together and he showed me some of locations where they were shooting.
In the chapter titled “A World of Grudge,” I write about how I learned that I had a cousin, Michael Rosen, an avant-garde erotic photographer well known in certain circles, who I never knew existed. After 65 years, I finally met him. Turned out he was aware of me through my work in erotic magazines. Since Rosen is such a common name, it never occurred to him we were related.