“If you didn’t know whether to risk doing something, what’s the worst that could happen? ‘So they call you pisher!’”
In this humorous and moving memoir, Michael Rosen recalls the first twenty-three years of his life. Born in the North London suburbs, his parents, Harold and Connie, both teachers, first met as teenage Communists in the 1930s Jewish East End. The family home was filled with stories of relatives in London, the United States and France and of those who had disappeared in Europe.
Unlike the children around them, Rosen and his brother Brian grew up dreaming of a socialist revolution; Party meetings were held in the front room, summers were for communist camping holidays, till it all changed after a trip to East Germany, when in 1957 his parents decided to leave “the Party.” Michael followed his own journey of radical self-discovery: running away to the Aldermaston March to ban the bomb, writing and performing in experimental political theatre, getting arrested during the 1968 movements.
“In his writing, he puts on no airs; his literary background (English degree from Wadham, Oxford) has not held him up—or back. Sometimes his writing is so simple, you wonder at it: how did he resist the temptation to dress it up? He knows—in his work at least—when to stop.”
“The lovely thing about Rosen’s writing is that it is rooted in the reality of his own post-war childhood—you can smell the matzo bray his father makes as a treat when his mother is out, hear the wheels squeak on his go-kart, sense the thrill of him and his 10-year-old friend Mart on holiday climbing the Sugar Loaf mountain and crossing from Wales into England with their trousers down.”
“Throughout his career, Rosen has inspired children and adults to fall in love with reading.”