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Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York Paperback – October 8, 2013
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The New York Times
"The hip, witty, and sometimes heartbreaking essays in Goodbye to All That get to the bottom of most Big Apple miseries: big dreams cost big bucks to maintain. As many of these writers figured out, sometimes losing New York City is the only way to regain your credit rating, rent-stabilized living spaces, and sanity. From candid to kooky to classic, this collection sheds the love, light, and lyricism the gritty city deserves."
Susan Shapiro, author of Speed Shrinking and Five Men Who Broke My Heart
"New York City is like a lover who left you for the slightly younger, prettier girl: you can smell him, taste him, yearn to have him back in your life. All the stories in this collection recall that lover and his many faults, and then make you forget them, all over again."
Martha Frankel, author of Hats & Eyeglasses and executive director of the Woodstock Writers Festival
"Of course it would take more than one woman to capture the mythic, ever-shifting, exhilarating, and disappointing beast that is New York. The chorus of voices that is Goodbye to All That sings the cityboth of the pavement and of the mindto life, over and over."
Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
About the Author
Sari is the editorial director of the TMI Project, a non-profit organization that holds true storytelling workshops in jails, shelters, veterans hospitals, schools, and other places where people dont usually get to tell their stories or be heard.
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Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York is a collection of essays from writers who have loved, left and maybe still long for those days when they could write and live in New York.
(This review combines this essay collection with the second collection Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York because both collections are so similar.)
The essays in both books represent a wide range of writers, from those who have always called the city their home to those who felt a pull or a calling to move to New York just to write, in many cases because pop culture has long established that “it's just what you do.” They explore their lives, loves, random jobs to pay the rent, terrible places to live, and the love affair that they feel with the city—with a few referencing the movie Manhattan as to give some sort of a visual representation of that type of infatuation with a place.
What becomes clear in both collections is that most of the writers participating entered New York at a vastly different time than it appears today. Many talk about moving to the city in the seventies, eighties and nineties (almost all essayists arrived in the pre-9/11 era) when there were still a few reasonable rents to be found and Times Square was a danger zone. It is not at all surprising that many of these writers ended up leaving some time after 2000 with skyrocketing rents and a somewhat harder time breaking into and keeping your head above water in the writing industry.
In both collections, there are a mix of those who left and never came back, those who still visit, and those who have stayed the course because New York is the only place to be. But every single essay seems to present a longing, even if the writer stayed. There's a longing to have that first feeling again of putting your feet on the sidewalk. There's the longing for all-night food delivery or being able to walk to any type of establishment you want to without ever seeing the same face twice. There's a longing for that one moment where the stars align before the city changes again.
These essays represent every reason why writers all over the world think that New York is the only place to be, but also wishing there was someplace more affordable or more forgiving than New York to thrive as a writer. Detroit keeps being recommended for those who want to have similar experiences to New York in the eighties, with just one problem—Detroit will never be New York. As one essayist puts it: “These days, being a creative person in New York is, in many cases, contingent upon inheriting the means to do it.”
But still I think these essays make a point that writers of all types should probably throw caution to the wind and have a New York period—whether that's a decade, a summer or one really good weekend. It needs to be explored an observed to be believed, because very few people on this earth come from a place as crowded, diverse, and amazing as New York. And you can't miss out on something like that.
The essays are an interesting mix of styles and perspectives. I especially like the memoirs of the new writers in the series and I have been exposed to some new names I will look out for.
I think this collection does great justice to Joan Didion's original essay in both tone, depth and perspective and for anyone considering leaving nyc (or going there on a whim) this collection will resonate
, Sari Botton and your team of writers for such a good read.