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Area Code 212: New York Days, New York Nights Hardcover – November 4, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While Janowitz is famous for her 1986 bestseller Slaves of New York, she's published widely since then—in everything from Vogue to Modern Ferret—and has revised many pieces for this anthology. Apart from the first selection, a horrifying description of having a miscarriage in a toilet at the Museum of Modern Art, most are in the E.B. White mode: witty vignettes on life in New York. Since adopting Chinese babies isn't uncommon in the world of modern Manhattanites, it's not surprising when Janowitz describes the trip she and her husband took to Heifei to adopt. Janowitz's description of her incompetence as a new mom has an almost Marx Brothers quality, as she details their baby fighting a diaper change "like a wounded fox in a leg-hold trap." Her essays on animals and pets are characteristically contrarian. She prefers "timid, feeble, neurotic, snappish, picky, babyish" dogs, but finds the Prospect Park Zoo's kangaroo no more interesting than a "gigantic rabbit." Apart from crotchety lapdogs, Janowitz loves food (oozing pizza, pounds of chocolate, doughnuts, steaks, etc.), although she doesn't enjoy elegant hors d'oeuvres at lavish receptions—after all, isn't eating "basically a solitary pleasure"? "The '80s died in Manhattan in 1987, along with Andy Warhol," she writes. But Janowitz herself, older and more self-critical, is still going strong.
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From Booklist

Janowitz's caustic wit, her taste for the sordid and the absurd, and her knack for skewering the fashionable and championing the clueless are as vividly present in her pithy nonfiction as they are in her spiky novels, which include A Certain Age (1999) and Peyton Amber (2003). This robust essay collection spans the past two decades and forms a montagelike self-portrait and a sharp critique of urban life. But will the reader get past the jarring opening essay, a deadpan and graphic account of her suffering a miscarriage at the Museum of Modern Art? This rough start does establish Janowitz's sanguinary tendencies, and things get far more engaging once she offers curmudgeonly yet affectionate tales about her adopted Chinese daughter and cops to her penchant for wearing bizarre outfits and her fondness for tiny, high-strung dogs. Janowitz is at her mordant best when she chronicles the spectrum of New York life, from her crummy neighborhood grocery and the fringes of Prospect Park to decadent promotional events and her hilarious escapades with Andy Warhol and their blind date club. Never correct or polite, Janowitz is sharply observant, bracingly frank, wryly skeptical, and fully aware of the deeper issues at stake, from the devaluing of art to homelessness to the precarious state of the environment. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (November 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312320620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312320621
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,339,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard K. Weems on September 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I haven't seen any of Janowitz's writing since Slaves of New York was first in paprback. This is a book I still refer myself back to now and then for some of its best stories ("You and the Boss" and "Kurt and Natasha: A Relationship" come to mind), but this book was followed with the quickly faultering and ultimately bland novel A Cannibal in Manhattan. But the bright spots of Slaves show that there is great promise for Janowitz's work--she does have a sensible way of handling absurdity, and at her best she puts even the most absurd situations in a wonderfully accesible light. This, of course, would seem to be one of the main drives of absurdity--to make even the most fantastic situation sympathetic because it ultimately touches something innately human, something that we could always learn or re-experience.

But when Janowitz goes wrong, the human element goes away, and one is left with a bizarre string of details that do little more than delight in being strange, but with little meaningful appeal. Unfortunately, this may be what Janowitz most enjoys. I saw her read with Howard Mohr, and a good part of her reading involved presenting slides of strange people that she knew in NYC. It was at least a little arrogant, more than a little egocentric, and ultimately carried little interest except for those who already thought that NYC was something of a circus, and here was a ringmaster giving them exactly what they wanted.

This experience was pretty much the same I had when reading this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Boston on May 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Cooking, New York, pets, hair, clothes, books, Andy Warhol-- everything you might want to read about. Witty, laid back writing.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ayun Halliday on January 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Having slogged through several VERY IMPORTANT and no doubt much book clubbed novels of the sort where a trio of southern ladies is glimpsed baking their baked goods while dancing to the Shirelles, it was like taking off a girdle to read these short pieces. Even when certain key points are repeated, belying a sort of publishing house sloppiness, I didn't mind - I'm all for Tama making a buck without having to rework old material that still rings fresh and funny.

Make that very very very funny - and I was gratified that Brooklyn, despite the title, loomed so large. Dang, I should have moved here in the early 80s!
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