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Who Town Paperback – March 2, 2012


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What If? by Randall Munroe
From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, find hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1470167751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1470167752
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,629,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The book is drawn from Ms. Kirschbaum’s experiences over the past 15 or so years in New York: after moving from a middle-class Philadelphia suburb, she covered the downtown scene for* The New York Times,* *The New York Observer, The Huffington Post *and others. Ms. Kirschbaum is the rare reporter who became part of her stories, dating band members and artists and hanging out with the crowd she was supposed to cover.* -Ray Lemoine, for the New York Times*

For her début novel *Who Town,* New York writer Susan Kirschbaum drew on her experience covering art, fashion, and certain social scenes in the city as a journalist for over a decade, lending the social parody an eerie air of realism. In Kirschbaum’s vivid portrayal, the problems and places feel real—it’s easy to envision scenes set not only in New York neighborhoods, but also in particular places, like the venue a young band plays on the Bowery, though she doesn’t name it. And issues of self and celebrity culture remain constant. While *Who Town *tells a tried tale—a mix of archetypal twenty-somethings struggling to find, define, and lose themselves in city culture—Kirschbaum reinvents the unraveling in a way that feels relevant. *Who Town* is the story of youth and identity, art and fashion, drugs and rehab, the scene and the sex, but for the next New York generation. -*The Last Magazine*

Susan Kirschbaum's debut novel *Who Town *takes a beautifully gritty look  at what it means to be a celebrity in New York, and we love it.Spoiler  alert: this is not another fluff piece about women who move to the city to  live the life of a character from *Gossip Girl *or* Sex and the City*.  Though her work has been compared to *Less Than Zero* by Bret Easton  Ellis and *The Necklace *by Guy de Maupassant, Kirschbaum’s writing is  entirely unique. Her unidealized prose paints it like it is in a style that  is all her own and very true to today. If you’re looking for a novel for  our generation in this city, this is it.
~ Noelle Yeager,* Dual Show*

About the Author

Susan Kirschbaum started her writing career as a journalist, penning fashion and art stories for Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, the Jewish Forward, the London Times, New York Observer, New York Magazine, and the New York Times, among others. She has written forwards and synopses for photography books for Steidl/Dangin, notably Roni Horn, Craig McDean, and Tierney Gearon. After dipping into investigative journalism and then personally, spending several late hours in back rooms with celebrities and rock stars, she decided to delve deeper into the human psyche and write fiction. She’s never looked back. Her first novel –”Who Town” — a social parody has been called by literary critics the “New York hipster Less than Zero." Her former agent described her as the love child of Mary Gaitskill and Bret Easton Ellis. There’s a second novel in the works that pays homage to some of her literary heroes including Nabokov, Philip Roth, Henry Miller, Jim Morrison, and her late grandmother Eva “Marge” Kirschbaum, all great story tellers in their own right.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
Susan Kirschbaum manages to humanize each one and make the reader care.
Adèle
WHO TOWN is a really quick and entertaining read that fits in your back pocket, and you can actually get in a chapter or two during the course of a short subway ride.
soundstream79
She creates complex and compelling characters, who appear throughout a story that becomes more and more engaging as it unfolds.
Gila

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Adèle on September 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Working in book publishing, I've read one too many debuts portraying NYC and was always utterly underwhelmed by how artificial the city appeared. Reading WHO TOWN was therefore both a relief and an incredible source of joy as for once, NYC felt real. I didn't expect Susan Kirschbaum's novel to be this dark, but being fond of somber tales, I was really pleased to discover she wasn't afraid of going deep into the bleak sometimes. Other parts showed a very keen sense of humor which amused me greatly, from wannabe artist Roxy's absurd sculptures to womanizer Rick's aseptic relationships with the opposite sex. All the fractured characters seem incredibly authentic, and their narcissistic agonies feel very palpable. What impressed me the most actually, is that I managed to be touched by all of them when they appear at first like absolute frauds with empty souls. Susan Kirschbaum manages to humanize each one and make the reader care. She also did a fine job at intertwining their various threads. I also loved the sharp dialogs and the clever ending is right on. I totally felt transported into NYC's chore all over again while reading it, which did make my heart ache considering I moved from there two months ago... It's no surprise to hear that there's a ton of film interest as WHO TOWN would make the quintessential film about NYC's 21st Century underground scene, portraying the void of a generation that can only shine through recognition and take no satisfaction in the road to reach it. Only the result counts, and they can't even climax anymore because they're so unable to abandon themselves. And of course, the biggest irony is that they all feel so connected to the past arty generations that lived in the same city as them, when they represent the lost generation's oxymoron by being so intrinsically formatted. Bravo Susan Kirschbaum. You nailed today's New York City in your novel and it's no easy job.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris on May 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Susan Kirschbaum doesn't just know who's who. She knows what's what. In Who Town, she uses her real life experience as a style journalist to skewer the highly ambitious and socially reprehensible NY downtown deminmonde. Her writing is spare, her scenarios cinematic. Her message is unmistakable. Ambition is as intoxicating as it is deadly. Read this and run from Manhattan, but for God's sake not to Williamsburg!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul Cantelon on July 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
''Who Town'' is a domain which contains some of modern fiction's most unforgettable heroines. Though set in present day N.Y.,Lola,Roxy,and Sarah could be out of the pages of Maupassant,and evoke the neurotic complexity of ''The Necklace's'' Mathilde. What I adored in Susan Kirschbaum's stunning debut is the counterpoint of hilarity and pathos which plays an effortless fugue throughout the intermingling stories of these three women,and the men that surround them,and though I have made reference to Maupassant,I believe that,in Susan,we have a new an utterly fresh voice,indeed a veritable modern day Edith Wharton. Like I have,I believe that you too will loose your heart to these endearing and complicated characters. I will eagerly await more from this extraordinary writer,and only hope that ''Who Town'' is the first of a series as,for me,''Les Femmes De Susan''have joined the forum of the unforgettable. Equally,as a film composer,I must say that this story is destined for the screen,and I only hope that at the time,I have the good fortune to be considered to write the score,as I find the heroines most inspiring thematically.
Sincerely,
Paul Cantelon
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kiki on October 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you're looking for biting wit and a sober-but-hilarious look at the NYC fashion and art scene, read this book! Kirschbaum is an insider who gives us a good, hard, funny look at the dark underbelly of New York's party and art scene. The lives of It Girls Lola and Roxy, indie-band front man Rick, and "Tribune" art columnist Sarah are intertwined in a tale that makes you step back and question the machinery behind high fashion, art, and the journalists that manipulate our perception of them.

Though the book provides plenty of satire, the stories of each individual are also surprisingly intimate and touching - not through any sentimentality but because of Kirschbaum's ability to describe characters' helplessness and neediness with humanity and humor. Kirschbaum also has the gift of delightful description - Lola's first heroin trip is a great showcase of this.

So, grab this book and settle in to enjoy the raucous, pathetic, tender lives of NYC's bright young things.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By soundstream79 on October 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
WHO TOWN is a really quick and entertaining read that fits in your back pocket, and you can actually get in a chapter or two during the course of a short subway ride. I thoroughly enjoyed reading WHO TOWN with the city happening all around me, as the picture of New York that the author, Susan Kirschenbaum, paints is as vivid and real as the one in which I live and breathe. Kirschenbaum immerses us in a downtown scene with all of its outward fabulousness, and takes us deeper behind closed doors where things are broken and life is much less fabulous. Drawing upon her own background as a fashion and arts journalist who got in pretty deep herself at times, Kirschenbaum reaches far beyond cliches and engages us in the relationships and emotional dynamics of a new generation of lost souls in the public eye. Weaving in and out of the fold throughout the novel is a journalist covering the scene, who enters this world of celebrity on behalf of a major newspaper publication, and grapples with editorial pressures and parameters while becoming increasingly more connected with her subjects on a personal level. WHO TOWN does not glamorize or glorify the "it" crowd that it depicts, nor does it pass judgment or make apologies. This is a beautifully written tale of today's privileged urban youth and the trials and tribulations of those in the big city who are essentially famous for being famous.
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