Aha Moment: This Side of Paradise

Feature

Friday, September 28, 2012

Growing up in Brooklyn, Sandra Sherman’s view of the world was limited. “I was supposed to go to Brooklyn College, if I went to college at all, stay at home, and become a high-school teacher just like my parents,” she remembers. “And I felt very claustrophobic in a sense in that everybody I knew was pushing me to be somebody that I didn’t really feel that I wanted to be.”

Sherman took refuge at a local library. One day she picked up F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise, mistaking it for an adventure story. Instead, it’s the story of a privileged young man trying to understand his place in the world. Amory Blaine goes to Princeton, works at the college magazine, plays sports, but “never fully inhabits a persona,” Sherman explains.

That yearning felt familiar: “This book made me realize that there were people who were not complacent. I finally saw that I had to get out of Brooklyn however that was possible and make my life so that I could be like the people in the book.”

Although Sherman has pursued a variety of careers — from law professor to culinary historian — she feels she’s still in search of her true calling. “I’ve always carried the same sort of longing that Amory Blaine had,” she says. “And longing is, in a sense, always perceiving opportunities and then wishing somehow that you can reach them, and not always being able to do that.”

Ed Herbstman and Claire Epstein read passages from the book.


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Contributors:

Sharon Mashihi

Comments [1]

Roslyn Karpel from Matawan, NJ

I enjoyed Sandra Sherman's description of her realizatiion that she wanted a different life for herself. I have had a number of AHA moments in my life. Though I was also raised in NYC my experience was different but the same in nature. Another important AHA moment came when I divorced with two children and took my first trip alone in almost 20 years. Thank you for asking people to share these very special moments. I hope to get a chance to do that too. Thank You, Roslyn Karpel

Oct. 01 2012 07:53 PM

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