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"Ah, what can ever be more stately and admirable to me than mast-hemm'd Manhattan?" marveled the excitable Walt Whitman in 1865. The skinny island and its four sister boroughs have continued to fascinate writers ever since, and it would be hard to find a better record of that fascination than Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker. As David Remnick explains in his foreword, the fledgling magazine paid relatively little heed to the nuts and bolts of metropolitan life, and in his original prospectus, Harold Ross didn't even mention fiction. But in the following decades, Ross and his successors published so many classic New York stories that the real challenge, according to Remnick, was whittling down the selection: "As there is barely enough room in this city to contain all of its busy, funny, angry, joyful, carping, and canny inhabitants, there was barely enough room to contain the wide range of stories we agreed upon."
So what made the grade? There are treasures from John Cheever ("The Five-Forty-Eight"), James Thurber ("The Catbird Seat"), Maeve Brennan ("I See You, Bianca"), Isaac Bashevis Singer ("The Cafeteria"), Jamaica Kincaid ("Poor Visitor"), and many others. The uptown neighborhoods appear to be more generously represented--a token, perhaps, of the magazine's well-heeled, fur-bearing readership--but from early Updike to middle-period Tama Janowitz, there are plenty of excursions south of Fourteenth Street. It's not, however, a simple matter of geography, but a kind of urban metaphysics at work. There are numerous and overlapping New Yorks represented in this collection: you'll find John Cheever's postwar paradise cheek-by-jowl with Ann Beattie's yuppie stomping ground. Then there's James Stevenson's vision of a flooded Gotham:
We are on the roof now. I have no idea what time it is, but it is daylight. The lower buildings have been submerged, the tall office buildings stand like tombstones above the heaving waves. There are whitecaps toward Central Park. An ocean liner stood by the Pan Am building for a while, then moved out to sea.... The water is swirling around the skylights now. The wind shifts. The waves are coming straight in from the Atlantic.Even in this postapocalyptic setting, New York stubbornly remains itself. A wonderful town indeed--and a wonderful collection to celebrate it. --Anita Urquhart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of The New Yorker, one of America's most popular and enduring magazines, Random House is bringing out these complementary anthologies that reprint the work of prominent New Yorker contributors. Selected by Remnick, the magazine's current editor, the pieces provide a retrospective of the magazine's journalistic history. Life Stories includes biographical sketches of such notables as Ernest Hemingway, Isadora Duncan, Johnny Carson, and Floyd Patterson. Well known for profiling famous people of the day, The New Yorker has created an intriguing record of those individuals considered important to the 20th century. Organized around the same theme of life in New York City, Wonderful Town contains works by some of the true masters of the short story genre, among them John Updike, Dorothy Parker, Vladimir Nabokov, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. With so many talented writers aboard, the venerable New Yorker should enjoy at least another 75 years of success. Both titles are recommended for public library collections.
Ellen Sullivan, Ferguson Lib., Stamford, CT
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I bought this book with high expectations, and was sorely let down. These stories were LOUSY! Not entertaining, not funny, not wonderful.... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Krazee Dog Lady
Story selection is varied and interesting. Works very well for a contemporary short story course. Stories lead to excellent discussions.Published 16 months ago by Barbara Shulman
A wonderful assortment of classical stories published in The New Yorker over time--one per author. A good read and a good addition to any personal library.Published 23 months ago by E. Lewis
I'm not a book critic, just a college student and had to read some stories from this book for class. Read morePublished on October 17, 2005 by Lora Ann
new york stories ? good. from the new yorker ? even better ! salinger, singer, bellow, updike and more, nice collection, really... Read morePublished on September 1, 2000