From Sobaski’s Stairway to the Irish Club: Lester Goran’s Pittsburgh

Matthew Asprey Gear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


For half a century Lester Goran (b. 1928) has written fiction set in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This paper explores Goran's continuing attempts to map this evolving urban space in novels such as The Paratrooper of Mechanic Avenue (1960) and Bing Crosby's Last Song (1998). Passages in these novels are closely examined in relation to Pittsburgh’s postwar ‘urban renewal’ and the expansion of the University of Pittsburgh. Additional insights are drawn from an extensive 2008 interview with the author. Goran’s imaginative recreations of Sobaski’s Stairway (a fictionalised Hill District) and the Irish neighbourhood of Oakland constitute an unjustly ignored trove of postwar American urban realism. This paper seeks to redress the current neglect of Goran’s work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-178
Number of pages11
JournalInterdisciplinary themes journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Lester Goran
  • Pittsburgh
  • American literature
  • urban writing


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