The Man Who Loved Children

Suzy Hansen reviews Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York, by Adam Gopnik, in The Nation:

Agopnik_fullNew Yorkers may never forgive Adam Gopnik for writing, days after September 11, that the haze drifting north from Ground Zero smelled like an Italian delicacy. The essay, “The City and the Pillars,” appeared in The New Yorker, where Gopnik has been a staff writer for many years. Devastated readers likely had looked to this literary security blanket to make sense of their personal apocalypse. Charged with this weighty task, Gopnik broke the news in high tones that Uptown, where he lived, was coping with the attacks more elegantly than Downtown.

“The smell, which fills the empty streets of SoHo from Houston to Canal,” he wrote, “blew uptown on Wednesday night and is not entirely horrible from a reasonable distance–almost like the smell of smoked mozzarella, a smell of the bubble time.” Gopnik was curiously reminded of prosperity and boom times, of cheese, by the odor of violent death. “Gopnik has a skill for shrinking everything in the universe to the scale of a bourgeois amenity,” Leon Wieseltier, not a New Yorker, wrote in The New Republic.

During those awful days, it was easy to be outraged.

More here.