Most of this book was discovered, or, rather, rediscovered, by Melvin during a move. Chapters he had written at various points of change or of reflection in his life were buried in a box in a closet—he had assumed they were lost. Once reacquainted with them, he was motivated to get to work on them, to bring them together cohesively, and to share them. Our review of them, and Melvin's desire to present them, was chronological, beginning with Melvin's birth, and thus did the overall effort become his memoir. Melvin continued to write and to revise as we worked, sometimes to get things right, sometimes to bridge a gap, sometimes to express his thoughts on our current world.
Melvin begins with his experiences growing up in the 1940s and 1950s in "Leqerville," a working-class Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. From there, he carries us through his years as a student athlete at Brooklyn College, his graduate studies at the Case Institute of Technology, his professional career at the United Technologies Research Laboratory and at Wayne State University, and his experiences as a psychologist.
Overall, Melvin focuses on transitions—childhood to adulthood, metropolitan to provincial, provincial to suburban, multicultural to mono-cultural and back again—through the lens of a Jewish American who came of age during a time of great American prosperity. What makes Melvin's perspective unique is that he is both a physicist and a psychologist, an academic who is also enmeshed in the non-academic, suburban world. Throughout this book he frames religio- and geopolitical conflicts against the background of his own his triumphs and failures, bringing to bear his wisdom on subjects as far ranging as stickball and the presidency of Donald Trump.