From his family background in the world of Brooklyn’s Jewish gangsters through his early years on the rough streets of New York City in the 1940s, and from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district in the 1960s through his arrival and 40-year residency in Santa Cruz, poet Morton Marcus tells the story of his growth from embattled youth to uneasy adulthood.
Filled with a rogues’ gallery of colorful characters and numerous anecdotes, as well as descriptions of his unconventional travels in Greece, Australia, Tahiti, Croatia, and the Czech Republic, Striking Through the Masks conjures up the last half of the twentieth century and the opening decade of the new millennium.
While recounting his own struggle to find self-awareness and wisdom, Marcus vividly describes his life and times through portraits of notable people he has intimately known or with whom he briefly came into contact. In vignette after vignette, he strikes through the public masks of President Richard Nixon, Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz, composer Lou Harrison, short story writer Raymond Carver, United States Poet Laureate Charles Simic, and many others to glimpse private moments that show telltale aspects of their personalities.
See photos from the book launch on March 13, 2008