A moving memoir, Dreaming of Columbus illuminates place as a force that shapes lives. With recollection and reportage, Michael Pearson re-creates the Bronx of the 1950s and 1960s, an Irish Catholic culture filled with light and shadows. Pearson renders time and place vividly through his lyrical narrative voice and his generous spirit toward his characters. The driving force behind Pearson's story is its people--an enigmatic father, a steadfast mother, an eccentric and influential writing teacher, the boys and girls who shared his neighborhood, the high school girl who shared his vision and his life--and the books that made escape and return seem possible. Few writers go home again as successfully as Michael Pearson. When he literally and imaginatively revisits the all-but-unrecognizable Bronx of his youth, longing for its intense life, he concedes it was "close to paradise." We understand perfectly.