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The Colossus of New York Paperback – October 12, 2004
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The writing is so beautiful and raw and smart and witty and has the tendency to remind us how wondrous all of the things we overlook as ordinary really are and just how singular NY reallt is. And, of course, god bless the man who can write in tons of tenses and not lose the audience's interest. Whitehead feels to me (having not read his other work) like the rare kind of writer who can write to and for anyone.
Everyone is getting this book for christmas. Everyone. I hope many read it, its give-you-goosebumps lovely.
When one encounters the name "Colson Whitehead," one is apt to think of an old Irish immigrant viewing the city through a jaundiced eye, bleary from another night of stumbling home in rush hour only to find he's locked himself out of his bachelor pad and can't get to the can of beans sitting on the counter seductively calling his name. Instead, what we're given is a young (younger than I am, anyway) born-and-raised New Yorker writing about the place he calls home.
But Colson Whitehead's The Colossus of New York is not just another travelogue. Oh, no, my friends. In fact, it is anything but; I seriously doubt the NY tourism board is going to be recommending this one. At times loving and ominous, sweet and sassy, laugh-out-loud funny and painfully depressed, The Colossus of New York is much like New York itself. There are eight million stories in the naked city, Whitehead wryly quotes, and one would think from reading this that every one of them is feeling a completely different emotion from any of the others at any given moment, and that it's all a constantly swirling chaotic mass. Amen.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book is how Whitehead manages to take this odd, impressionist look at New York and map it onto you, the reader. You're liable to find at least one or two snatches of sentence per page you can identify with, even if you've never set foot within an hundred miles of the place. Thus, even if you care nothing about New York, it's probable he's going to keep you interested in its goings-on. A beautiful thing, that. But the draw of the book, and its continuing majesty throughout, is Whitehead's ability with language.Read more ›
Whitehead sculpts sentences here with dazzling, fluid mastery. In sentence after sentence, he manages to surprise you, keeping you in gleeful suspense for that next line, and the next one... And yet it never feels overwrought or exhausting, probably because he pays equal attention to the rhythm of his prose (this is one of those books you can't help reading aloud).
Here's one of my many favorite passages, set in the subway system:
"This is the fabled journey through the underground, folks, and it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. On the opposite track it's a field of greener grass, you gotta beat trains off with a stick. From his secret booth the announcer scares and reassures alternatively. The postures on the platform sag or stiffen appropriately. With a dial controlling the amount of static. What are their rooms like, the men at the microphones. One day the fiscal importunities of the subway announcer's union will be exposed and that will be the end of the hot tubs and lobster, but until then they break out the bubbly. Look down the tunnel one more time and your behavior will describe a psychiatric disorder. It's infectious.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
had to read this for college, very intersting! very relatable if you've lived in NYC for a while.Published 4 months ago by jackie
Let’s be clear: Colson Whitehead’s piece about the Twin Towers, which opens this book, was published in the New York Times shortly after 9/11. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robert Slocum
This book wasn't completely horrible, but it lost its enjoyment factor quickly in my opinion. At first I liked the poetic element but then it just felt so long winded and... Read morePublished 12 months ago by run4
Wow a critical read to grasping not truly understanding NYC. This book speaks to you no wonder it's summer reading for NYU ....welcome to the Big Apple.Published 13 months ago by Janet Baldocchi
Hard to read at certain times of the day but I really connected to certain threads of thought. Simple but thought provoking read.Published 18 months ago by Secretkey23
Very disappointed. Author seemed to think that writing in partial sentences added an excitement that did not come near matching E. B. White's books about New York.Published 21 months ago by Gilbert Cantlin
Had to read this for a class, very intriguing and a good read. Kept me moving and was fast, much like NYC itself. Good job Hemingway.Published 23 months ago by Destiny Johnson
I was assigned this book for summer reading, and it may very well be the worst book a school has ever forced me to read. Read morePublished 23 months ago by AZ