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Writing New York : A Literary Anthology (Library of America)

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Phillip Lopate

Few cities on earth exert New York's pull on the literary imagination. There may be nothing like Paris in springtime, or a foggy day in London Town, but for sheer page volume, neither of these can rival the city that never sleeps. In celebration of Greater … see full wiki

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Author: Phillip Lopate
Publisher: Library of America
1 review about Writing New York : A Literary Anthology...

A classic collection of literary and historical New York

  • Feb 3, 1999
Rating:
+5
This anthology of fiction and memoirs about America's first city offers as vivid a picture of New York City life and attitudes as any history book. Open the book at random, and there is something worth reading: George Templeton Strong wondering in his diary: "Is it the doom of all men in this century to be weighed down with the incumbrance of a desire to make money and save money, all their days?" (in 1852!); Stephen Crane writing of a man's moral dilemma over the false arrest of a possible prostitute; Ralph Ellison noting in "New York, 1936" that: "in the hustle and bustle of that most theatrical of American cities, one was accepted on the basis of what one appeared to be."

Then there's the fiction and the anthropological excerpts which offer pleasures of their own. One of Damon Runyon's stories about the "Guys and Dolls" of Broadway is here, a tougher story than one would expect from him. A selection from Oscar Hijuelos' "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" is here as well. Joseph Mitchell's "Up in the Old Hotel," an observation piece written for The New Yorker and Zora Neale Hurston's "Story in Harlem Slang."

"Writing New York" is a convivial convention, probably the only gathering of New York wits and writers and reporters we're likely to see this side of heaven. Reading it alongside "Gotham" from Oxford University Press fleshes out a portrait of a great city that may be down at times, but can never be counted out.

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