Alum Author Gets Prolific in Middle Age

Wesleyan-graduated artists seem to have been especially prolific recently – Gabriel Cohen ’82, currently residing in Brooklyn, has published three books in different genres in the past year: “Boombox”, a literary novel about gentrification in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill; “The Graving Dock”, a more commercial crime novel; and “Storms Can’t Hurt the Sky: A Buddhist Path Through Divorce”, a chronicle of his messy divorce.

Mr. Cohen was born in Austin, Tex., and lived in Afghanistan and Rio de Janeiro as a boy, while his father helped train elementary schoolteachers, before settling in Washington. After attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut and stints in a rock band and at a weekly newspaper, Mr. Cohen moved to New York, taking day jobs to get by. (He has in recent years written occasionally for the City section of The New York Times.)

He wound up in Boerum Hill on Wyckoff Street, where today about the biggest threat on the sidewalk is having your foot run over by a baby stroller. But back in 1989 the block was more dangerous. “I’d hear gunshots at night,” he said outside his old apartment. “I got mugged on this block.”

He was writing a novel there in 1991 when what he called a “writer’s nightmare” began: a teenage neighbor bought a club-size public-address system and began blasting gangsta rap in the courtyard. “I tried talking to him and his mother,” Mr. Cohen said. “She told me, ‘This isn’t Westchester.’ ”

Probably not the kind of rude awakening imminent Wes grads might hope for if/when moving to Brooklyn… but you can dream!

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