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Synopsis

An Enlarged Heart, the exquisitely written prose debut from prize-winning poet Cynthia Zarin, is a poignantly understated exploration of the author’s experiences with love, work, and the surprise of time’s passage. In these intertwined episodes from her New York world and beyond, she charts the shifting and complicated parameters of contemporary life and family in writing that feels nearly fictional in its richness of scene, dialogue, and mood. The writer herself is the marvelously rueful character at the center of these tales, at first a bewildered young woman, navigating the terrain of new jobs and borrowed apartments and the rapidly fading New York of people like Mr. Ferri, the Upper East Side tailor (“a wren of a man with pins flashing in his teeth”). By the end, whether Zarin is writing about vanished restaurants, her decades-long love affair with her collection of coats, a newlywed journey to Italy, a child’s illness, Mary McCarthy’s file cabinet, or the inner life of the New Yorker staff she knew as a young woman, this history of the heart shows us how persistent the past is in returning to us with entirely new lessons, and that there are some truths not even a tailor can alter.

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