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Empire State: A Love Story (or Not) Hardcover – May 1, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
The story follows Jimmy, an often awkward but very endearing guy sitting in a crossroads of his life. As he tries to figure out what to do next, his fixates on Sara -- a fellow nerd who is savvier than Jimmy and has recently left the Bay area (where they were both from) to reboot her life in New York City. The results for Jimmy are decidedly mixed, but nonetheless honest.
But there is a sweet wonder to this journey that Jimmy goes on. He approaches life with a surprisingly open heart and with the same senseless hope we all did when we were younger. I laughed at loud -- with sympathy! -- when Jimmy is secretly thrilled that a New York cusses in front of him ("Just like in Goodfellas" he can't help but exclaim) or when he explains that he decided to take a six day bus ride from Oakland to NYC because he "thought it would be a nice to see the country, traveling town to town..." And then sighed -- again, with sympathy -- when he explained he thought growing up would be like easier, that he'd "go off to some college on the East Coast for four years and then return knowing everything there is to know about the world."
Sara is a great foil for Jimmy, giving him hope, humor & firm swats on the immaturity when he needs it. And I love how Shiga tells the edits his story -- giving time & space for the sweet moments and the awkward ones too, but also flipping around the timeline, keeping the reader on the edge of the story.Read more ›
This book wasn't bad, I just didn't think it had the spark of the author's best books. The basic concept seems fun enough: a sweet, naive protagonist with a penchant for romantic movies tries to do a romantic-movie gesture in real life. But it didn't draw me in, and I left the book thinking there wasn't all that much to it. I dunnow, perhaps I miss the more high-concept nature of the author's other stories.
One thing I liked was the details of Oakland' Lake Merritt - having been to the area many times, it's fun to see accurate sketchings in the background from various vantages.
EMPIRE STATE is a smaller, more personal story than either of those; it's based loosely on Shiga's own life, and follows Jimmy, a quiet, stagnating guy in his mid-twenties, living in his native Oakland with his mother. His best friend, Sara -- whom he transparently pines for, though she either ignores or doesn't notice it -- has just moved to Brooklyn. So Jimmy writes her a romantic-comedy letter and jumps on a bus to go visit her there, hoping for the Hollywood happy ending. What follows is more like a gentler Adrian Tomine story; Sara has moved on, but is still a good friend to Jimmy. And, maybe, this is what Jimmy needed to finally move out of his comfort zone and get going with his life.
Shiga tells his story quietly, alternating between red-hued chapters for the past and blue-tinted ones for "now," building a slow picture of Jimmy's happy but limited life and implying all of the things that he wants, since Jimmy can't say most of those things. It's not as flashy as MEANWHILE or BOOKHUNTER, but it's smarter about people than either of those books, showing an intriguing new depth to Shiga's work, and it's a lovely not-a-love-story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved Shiga's other works much more. Personally, nothing so far has topped Meanwhile. This book isn't a total loss, it just didn't have that intense out-of-the-box feel like his... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jordan R Colon
I was enchanted by this little tale. I thought the simple art and color scheme really went along with the story.Published 21 months ago by Kindle Customer
The main character, an author surrogate, lives in Oakland, where he doesn't do anything. His friend moves to New York, where it is implied she does interesting things, but they all... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Thomas Eliot
it was pretty good. thats all. i read it and i was like ok. now that i think about it, it suckedPublished on November 19, 2013 by calryon Gireach
Yes, the story is somewhat tropey, but that's intentionally by design. And yes, it is very simplistically designed compared to Shiga's other crazier works, but it's still very... Read morePublished on August 26, 2013 by Marvin S. Choi
Jason Shiga, in this particular book comes across as Adrian Tomine 'lite' even down to such trappings as a lovelorn Oakland denizen (with crappy job) making a journey to NYC for... Read morePublished on April 1, 2012 by Sibelius