Ambidextrous: The Secret Lives of Children


Memoir of the author’s childhood in 1950s suburban New York, including his first encounters with sex, authoritarianism, adult hypocrisy, and the call to be a writer.

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Bold, funny, and shockingly honest, Ambidextrous is like no other memoir of 1950s urban childhood. Picano appears to his parents and siblings to be a happy, cheerful eleven-year-old, possessed of the remarkable talent of being able to draw beautifully and write fluently with either hand. But then he runs into the mindless bigotry of a middle-school teacher who insists that left-handedness is “wrong,” and his idyllic world falls apart. He uncovers the insatiable appetites of a set of neighboring sisters, falls for another boy with a glue-sniffing habit, and uncovers the hidden world of adult desire and hypocrisy. Picano exits his boyhood sooner than most, but with his sense of self intact and armed with a fuller understanding of the world he is about to enter.

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