Hortense Calisher’s evocative memoir bristles with intelligence and youthful inquiry
Kissing Cousins recalls the author as a teenager: peppy, earnest, and a bit self-important. Hortense Calisher documents her family’s surprising history as Southern Jews adrift in New York. Finding her new city and school boorish, the young Calisher takes solace in the enduring friendship she develops with Katie Pyle, a gregarious nurse turned “kissing cousin” fifteen years Calisher’s senior. Katie, an unmarried woman, possesses her own secret, depicted here with a novelist’s touch for the dramatic. Kissing Cousins tackles matters of aging, life, and death with the sensitivity and eloquence readers have come to expect from Hortense Calisher.