M any a young person has moved to New York to make their mark as a writer, only to join the ranks of waiters and waitresses. Mequon native Rick Perlstein, on the other hand, will probably never find himself working for tips. He has published in Lingua Franca, The Nation, The Village  Voice  and  The  American  Prospect—and  that’s  just  for  starters.  His book “Before the Storm: The 1964 Barry Goldwater Campaign and American Culture” is set to be published in the spring by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. The book grew out of an article he wrote titled “Who Owns the Sixties” as well as a book review of a work titled “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace, described by Perlstein as a “literary event in 1996.” Important  people  are  saying  complimentary  things  of  Perlstein.  David Kennedy,  winner  of  the  1999  Pulitzer  Prize  for  history,  wrote,  Perlstein’s book  is  “a  must  read  for  anyone  interested  in  the  intertwined  fates  of conservatism and liberalism in the politics of the last half-century.” There’s no reason to disagree. Perlstein seems to have caught the front car on the uptown express train when  it  comes  to  his  favorite  subject:  revisionist  history  of  the  turbulent 1960s. “Before the Storm” is not a sympathetic portrayal of a man defeated in  his  bid  to  become  president  of  the  United  States.  Putting  it  archly, Perlstein  studies  Goldwater,  Nixon  and  other  conservatives  to  understand the enemy. One of his theses is that the Goldwater camp, though missing a  stint  in  the  White  House,  set  in  motion  events  and  thinking  that  led  to what  Perlstein  considers  a  right  wing  ascendence  in  everything  from ultra-conservative, religious and political ideas, to the dismantling of welfare. Perlstein came to New York in 1994, after earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Chicago and attending graduate school at the University of Michigan working toward an American Cultural Studies degree. He is the son of  Sandi  and  Jerry  Perlstein,  recently  retired  owners  of  Bonded  Messenger Service.  The  Perlsteins  have  raised  three  other  creative  children:  Linda,  a writer for the Washington Post; Ben, who has his own jazz band known in Milwaukee as “The Benjamins,” and Steve, a publisher. They grew up in the Bayside and Fox Point areas and attended Nicolet High School. Perlstein, like most writers, is a voracious reader. Especially high on his list are political books. He begins with “American Earthquake: A Chronicle of the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, & the Dawn of the New Deal” by Edmund Wilson. Two contemporary works read are “Blood of the Liberals” by George Packer and “The Other America” by Michael Harrington. Since  politics  is  always  somehow  aligned  with  one  market  theory  or another,  he  reads  non-fiction  like  Thomas  Frank’s  “One  Market  Under God”and Juliet Schor’s “The Overspent American.” He also likes Robert Lane, author of “The Decline of Happiness in Market Democracies.” Robert Frank’s recent book “Luxury Fever” is another recommendation. Perlstein  vs  Goldwater Work called political “must-read” Story and photography by Judith Steininger Mequon native Rick Perlstein: important people are saying complimentary things. NOTABLE  READER He has completed Philip Roth’s “The Human Stain,” a fictional study of how  “the  fabric  of  a  university  is  rent  by  racial  speech.”  Not  willing  to commit himself to an all out endorsement of Saul Bellow, despite his being a Nobel laureate, Perlstein recently read “Ravelstein,” a thinly disguised novel about Bellow’s nemesis Allan Bloom, a one time colleague of Bellow’s at the University  of  Chicago.  He  also  read  James  Atlas’  “Bellow:  A  Biography.” Perlstein describes it as a “literary dust off in New York.” Translation? If you like notoriety, a dust off is a good thing. His “absolutely favorite book is ‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville because of Melville’s gentle pedagogical tone.” With a grin, Perlstein said he could commiserate with a statement Melville made that “dollars damn me,” which proves  that  some  conditions  aspiring  writers  and  struggling  artists  suffer through never change. Two  other  novels  he  likes,  albeit  from  widely  separated  eras,  are  the Victorian George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” and contemporary Cynthia Ozick’s “The Puttermesser Papers.” The latter Perlstein describes as a “dark, comic tale about the New York Civil Service.” He’s  been  known  to  write  serious  articles  for  and  hang  out  with  the intelligentsia  at  the  “Village  Voice,”  and  he  says  “tell  them  I  love ‘The Onion’.” Perlstein  lives  in  Brooklyn’s  Park  Slope  section,  a  neighborhood  full  of writers like Paul Auster (author of 34 books including “Music of Chance,” a novel,   and   “Art   of   Hunger,”   non-fiction   about   writing)   and   assorted wannabes. Perlstein wrote a charming vignette for the New Yorker Magazine (Sept. 25, 2000) about a young, Turkish medical student’s attempts to meet the reclusive Auster in Park Slope. Perlstein also continues to play jazz piano describing himself as a “Sunday duffer”  now,  but,  with  a  laugh,  recalls  his  glory  days  playing  a  bar  in Milwaukee called “The Virginian.” “We were really big with the Marquette crowd,” he recalls.