Long Island, New York, New Jersey

I grew up in Nassau County, on the south shore of Long Island, and most of the story happens there, or in Manhattan, or in nearby New Jersey.

Kristiansand, Norway

Our base in Norway was Dagny’s hometown. It happened to be the first place the Nazis landed in World War II. Dagny would’ve been a teenager then.
location, Kristiansand

Putney School
location, Putney School

The Putney School is in the southeastern corner of Vermont, near Brattleboro. It’s an amazing place in many ways, and I hope that comes through in the book somehow, despite my many problems. The truth is, Putney keeps its students academically challenged and physically active, and it nurtures creativity and problem-solving in many forms. But it really helps to show up with some kind of a self partly developed.

If, however, you’ve spent your childhood from second grade on monitoring your environment for threats—well, that’s energy that’s not available to help you figure out who you are. Arguably, they shouldn’t have accepted me. Arguably, since they did, they might have done more to help. But what I really needed at that point was a parent, and the school had every right to believe that was someone else’s job.

As for the drugs, well, hey—it was the sixties; practically every high school in America was awash in drugs. Most still are. If you want to protect your kids from harm, parenting them with love and consistency is a lot more effective than trying to place them in some delusionary “safe” place.

Institut Monte Rosa

location, Institut Monte Rosa
Gee, this place was nice. And well run. And I even learned some French. In fact, the summer I spent at the Institut Monte Rosa in Montreux, Switzerland was the happiest of my childhood (after my mother’s death), although I had to write this book to realize it. I have no memories of any problems, and almost no memories of any teacher (except one extraordinarily kind young woman from Austria named Mlle Kornfeind). In my case, this is a sure sign of things going well.

La Chatelainie

I’ve never been a fan of girls’ schools, what can I say? Yet this place had its points. They weren’t academically serious, but it was summer, after all. Best thing about it was the food, which was phenomenal. A family of Swiss-Italians ran the kitchen with flair, creativity, and genuine affection. I wanted them to adopt me.


Bizarrely, in the early sixties, someone really did decide to build a theme park in the Bronx. Here’s a YouTube video about it. And the Wikipedia article. And it looks like someone even had a good time there once: here’s a dedicated fan site.