Uptown/Downtown in Old Charleston
Sketches and Stories
Rubin's wide-eyed narrator takes readers on excursions to Adger's Wharf, the Battery, Union Terminal, the shops of King Street, the Majestic Theater, the College of Charleston, and other recognizable landmarks. With youthful glee he watches the barges and shrimp trawlers along the waterfront, rides streetcars down Rutledge Avenue and trains to Savannah and Richmond, paddles the Ashley River in a leaky homemade boat, pitches left-handed for the youngest team in the Twilight Baseball League, ponders the curious chanting coming from the Jewish Community Center, and catches magical glimpses of the Morris Island lighthouse from atop the Folly Beach Ferris wheel. His fascination with the gas-electric Boll Weevil train epitomizes his appreciation for the freedom of movement between the worlds of Uptown and Downtown.
The collection ends with a homecoming to Charleston by our narrator, then a young man in his early twenties, as his inbound train is greeted by familiar vistas as well as by views he had never encountered before. This is the city Rubin called home, where there were always surprising discoveries to be found, both in the burgeoning newness of Uptown and the storied legacies of old Downtown.
"Proud of its impeccable pedigrees and beautiful old houses, Charleston might lure any native boy into its snobbish spell, but Louis Rubin was drawn to another Charleston and a different vision. He preferred the docks to the yacht club basin. He loved baseball, not golf. He admired not the sleek passenger locomotives, but the Doodle Bug, a little train toodling through on its way to Savannah. Out of such young choices there grew a fine writer and a great American critic. The reader will discover Rubin's Charleston in this book."—Elizabeth Spencer
"Uptown/Downtown in Old Charleston is about a city in some ways larger that the state in which it resides. The book is also about memory and boyhood and baseball and boats and trains and family—and it packs a great wallop because it's written by one of the country's finest writers. These nine stories are among the best nine innings of history you'll ever read."—Clyde Edgerton
"Louis Rubin brings the city to life with his insider guide to a secret Charleston too often overlooked in the carriage tours and guidebooks of today. Rubin allows you to enter the soul of the real Charleston, revealing its essence and depth. A wonderful, necessary book."—Pat Conroy
"Wisdom and humor abound in this trustworthy guide to a lost world. Exquisite, deeply felt writing illuminates the well-lived life of a well-loved manand it ain't over till it's over, either! Here's a fine companion for the journey"—Lee Smith, Lee Smith
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