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Eve in the City: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Rayfiel
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“They say the city never sleeps. It does. Just before dawn you can hear it snore. Light hangs in the air, directionless, not yet pressed into rays. The smell of a hidden sea soaks through stone. The streets themselves have that booming emptiness of a shell held to the ear. Everyone is dreaming. It’s when I began to wander, that time in between.”

For Eve, newly arrived from a religious colony in the heartland, the sidewalks of New York aren’t conveyors of humanity, they are sacred symbols, holy places. In the early morning, when her shift as an after-hours barmaid ends, she roams the deserted neighborhoods. It is a pilgrimage of sorts. Like so many before her, Eve has come to Manhattan to find herself among the lights and noise and sea of anonymous faces that make up the city.

One night, her nocturnal meanderings lead her to a scene that will set her life on an unexpected course. She sees two people pressed against each other in the shadows of a building. Is it a mugging? A rape? Or is this what love looks like when viewed from the outside? Eve's gaze locks into that of the struggling woman. There is a moment of connection, of silent communication, and then she is gone, the sound of her footsteps swallowed by the city, leaving behind a man . . . bleeding on the pavement.

As Eve attempts to understand what she actually saw, she becomes involved with an up-and-coming artist who draws her to him even as his actions push her away; she meets a peculiar, father-like detective who pressures her to talk about a crime she now thinks may not have even happened; and she contemplates a marriage proposal that will give her a lot more than a last name. Everyone seems to want something from Eve; now if only she can figure out what, exactly, she has within her to give.

With Eve In The City, Thomas Rayfiel has written a love letter to New York, from empty dawn streets to the glitter of Bloomingdale’s to the galleries of SoHo. Here is a smart, often dark-humored novel of a young woman’s search for self.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A young woman grasps at self-knowledge against the backdrop of a seedy New York City in Rayfiel's uneven third novel, a sequel to the author's well-received Colony Girl. Seventeen-year-old Eve left a "tiny religious colony" in Iowa and moved alone to Manhattan, where she lives in a garret and works at a grimy after-hours bar operated by Viktor Kholmov, an illegal Russian immigrant. Returning home at dawn, Eve sees a couple struggling: the woman flees, and the man collapses, a knife in his gut. She files a half-hearted police report, and shortly thereafter she attends a gallery opening, mostly because she can't figure out how she got an invitation. There she meets the artist Marron McKee (a "creepy beauty" obsessed with "the Male Gaze") and a kindly painter named Horace Dean, with whom she tentatively begins a relationship. Viktor proposes marriage to Eve, and she, in her particular brand of muddled thinking, considers it, while Arthur Jourdain, a downcast, solitary detective investigating the alleged stabbing, keeps tabs on her and takes a paternal interest. Eve decides that she should search for the victim herself, and she learns that one of New York's most powerful citizens has an intense personal stake in what she witnessed. The favor he asks challenges Eve just as she always imagined the city would. Improbable encounters are necessary to advance the plot toward a conclusion that strains credibility; at times the narration is choppy and the chronology cloudy. What shines through is Rayfiel's knowledge of, and affection for, the public and peripheral worlds of New York City.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The protagonist of Rayfiel's acclaimed Colony Girl (1999) reappears, having exchanged the Iowa religious colony where she grew up for New York. Only 17 and lacking proper identification (like a last name), Eve takes a job as a cocktail waitress at an illegal bar run by an undocumented Georgian immigrant. Roaming the streets in the predawn hours, she witnesses a crime and files a police report, but she's not sure exactly what she saw (or if she made it all up)--a woman getting raped, or maybe a man getting stabbed by the woman he was just kissing. The incident leads to her meeting a detective and a reticent artist, whom she fantasizes about even as she considers a marriage proposal from her green-card-seeking boss. Much of the narrative plays out in Eve's thoughts, making it difficult to figure out what is real and what isn't. But through it all, Eve remains a screwed-up but likable heroine whom readers will want to follow further as she moves toward a brighter future. Beth Leistensnider
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 462 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345455177
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUAD5O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,661,865 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great first four sentences October 19, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I may be the wrong reader for Rayfiel, although since I've just finished the third of his three novels I can't be too wrong. Others have criticized him for choosing to write in the first person about the sex life of a much younger female, so I won't join that chorus. If we made a rule that writers had to be the same age and sex as their protagonists then literature would be much impoverished. My problem is that I lose interest when characters drift off into dreamland and I'm not sure whether they're remembering things or imagining them. Rayfield did a lot of that in Split Levels. In Colony Girl he kept things anchored in his fictional real world but he's back at it again here.

Eve, from Colony Girl has arrived in Manhattan, at the age of 16 and obtained her own apartment. How she did that would have been an interesting story, since she's naïve and friendless and poor. Her only social contacts are in the bar where she's working off the books, for Victor, the illegal Mingrelian, who wants to marry her. She witnesses a rape and knife attack and goes to tell the police about it, but then isn't sure if she was imagining it or is telling lies about it. Some implausible melodramatic developments arise from this two hundred pages later but there's puzzlement rather than suspense build-up. Characters tend to be enigmatic and act in strange ways anyway.

Victor is the most interesting character and the most likely New Yorker, with realistic

money and housing dilemmas. I hope he's the center of the next Rayfiel.

Why should we bother to read the next Rayfiel? Just read the first four sentences of this one and you'll know why.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Colony Girl Grows Up September 17, 2003
By A Customer
I loved COLONY GIRL and have been eagerly awaiting this sequel. While Eve grew up in a unique setting, a religious colony, she is now in a common situation: a young woman trying to find herself in Manhattan. But Rayfiel has vividly shown that the external situation is only tangential to the real setting, what goes on in Eve's mind. Fortunately, that place is sharp, funny and always surprising.
The novel is about gaps: between what is real and what you experience; between what others feel and how you perceive them; between expectations and reality. Throughout the compelling story, we root for Eve to discover that it's her own experiences and feelings that count. In a very satisfying conclusion, we see that she has, and are left wanting to see where that discovery will take her next.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Aimless June 11, 2005
One-named Eve leaves her conservative,religious, rural background and moves to New York City. She is seventeen with all the immature sensiblities that her age indicates.

This is my first Thomas Rayfiel novel. The book is billed as a love letter to the Big Apple. I spent years living in a big city and visited NYC on several occasions. I hoped for a depiction of the good that exists in the city ; the diversity that makes the city thrum. Instead, Rayfiel dwells on the seamy, desperate denizens of the city.

Author Rafiel writes well. It seems he wants to write a literary novel here but keeps returning to the plot devices of popular fiction. The result is uneven but intriguing enough to keep the reader interested.

But the biggest drawback to this novel is Eve's unredeeming flakiness. As we follow the processes of her mind, she appears schizophrenic much of the time and without a base of core values all of the time. Rayfiel does not, in this novel, explain the origin of this loss of a life foundation. Eve flits from one loser to another in search of the elixir of life although she knows not where to find it (Sex? Marriage? Elsewhere?)

The supporting cast is just as lost. An illegal alien who philosophizes about the shortcomings of Americans and their language ; fellow barmaids who nave no more clue of life than Eve ; dysfunctional artists ; a policeman ; and a wealthy man with no scruples. It makes for a readable but disappointing book.

The author ties up all the loose plot lines in the end, but leaves no real conclusion to Eve's story. I understand that she is a character from his previous novel, Colony girl. It is possible that novel explains some of the circumstances that created a mess like Eve. But I will not be reading it to find out.
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