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Dancing in the Land of Oy

Shepherd's long-awaited epic.

I'm not a dancer. I'm not Jewish.

So naturally I'm writing about a book about my introduction to the world of Israeli folk dancing—a world to which I've been led by The Woman In My Life.

A chronicle of mutual unfoldings in the lives of a gardener, his family, and his neighborhood. Over the seasons of a year a 104-year-old neighbor dies, a mother gives birth to a baby girl, the writer's son nearly loses a finger, and the tiny front-yard patch where he tends his garden yields 388 tomatoes—with some of which his Italian neighbor Rose teaches him to make tomato sauce. A story of the magic in our everyday lives.

James Baldwin, Geoffrey Wolff, Tobias Wolff, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Tom Junod and others write about the influence of their fathers on their lives. With introductions to the volume and to each individual essay by Steven L. Shepherd.

In a celebration of both work and place, this extended example of narrative nonfiction takes an in-depth look at the fixing of a tiny portion of a tiny part of our neglected national infrastructure: a neighborhood's sewer system.