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Letter from America: Revival of the Borscht Belt

Regulars | November issue

Hipsters are gentrifying a land of cheap drugs and derelict hotels 

Americans don’t like to admit it, but they are foreigners in their own land.  The place is so vast and various that only travelling salesmen, presidential candidates and serial killers visit all fifty states. Texas is bigger than France. Massachusetts, the state where I live, is sixteen times bigger than Hertfordshire, the county where I grew up.  Now in our thirteenth year in America, my wife and I are trying to expand our mental maps of the north-east. We also feel obliged to show our children that ‘America’ is more than Europhile, ex-pat, tea-drinking, college-town Cambridge, Massachusetts.  So, having admired the artisanal cheeseworks of Vermont, the book barns of Connecticut, and the meth labs of New Hampshire, we turned, like so many immigrants before us, to the infinite horizon to the west. We decided to go to a renovated resort in the Catskills.  Everyone has heard of the Catskills. Americans...

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