In the winter of 2011, I was teaching a memoir class at Stony Brook Southampton in Manhattan, in the East 20s. It was the same neither-here-nor-there neighborhood in which I spent my childhood pretending to be a private detective, and following imaginary criminals I suspected of committing imaginary crimes. After the memoir class, I began taking long walks in the area, gathering memories and thoughts. They came together in The Boy Detective, to be published by Ecco/HarperCollins in November. An excerpt follows.
Once in a rare while my boy detective would actually solve a mystery, insofar as mysteries can be solved, as in the case of the bent old woman—black coat, black dress, who used to walk around Gramercy Park hurriedly, as if she were chasing something. She muttered to herself, occasionally looking up to see the kids of the neighborhood staring at her, and mocking her. “There’s the witch,” we said. “Witch!” And she would shake her tiny fist at us and walk on, never slowing, around and around the park.