BOOKS: FIRST STOP, GREENWICH VILLAGE

WRITER MARY CANTWELL WAXES NOSTALGIC ABOUT THE DAYS OF VIVALDI AND VOGUE

Remember when cockroaches were romantic? Mary Cantwell's Manhattan, When I Was Young (Houghton Mifflin; 214 pages; $21.95) is an unusually deft contribution to the durable genre of memoirs on the theme of How I Came of Age in a Greenwich Village Walk-Up, Married an Intellectual and Learned to Survive on My Own in the Big Apple.

Actually, the author's first New York City apartment in the 1950s was a walk-down: the "back half of a basement" with one room and a toilet down the hall. There this shy, Catholic girl from a small town in Rhode Island would sit "cross-legged on...

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