Square Root of a Fallen Arch is the true story about growing up in New York, circa 1916-1929. It is based on a collection of written memories and is told from the perspective of its narrator, Willian Loeffler Jr. who we meet at age six year of age. Thus the book covers the period from just before WW I through the roaring twenties and prohibition, all these providing a continuing point throughout the narrative.
Square Root of a Fallen Arch is very much a coming of age story. While humorous and immediate, the motif running through the story shows a wistful and touching awareness of slow erosion in the narrator’s known world and the emergence of a new, more modern version. It is important that William is not quite so sure that this emergence is really progress. Still through by bookend, the city William knew as a young boy is a very different place.
The Arch in Washington Square Park (with which the book begins and ends) is symbolic of a world fallen and replaced by another.