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on November 26, 2013
It's nice, for a change, to see an anthology in which women authors make up more than 7 percent of the contributors. That said, and unless I'm mistaken, ALL these contributors are women. Which is fine, but it would have been good to bring in a few men's perspectives on loving and leaving New York. And -- again, unless I'm mistaken -- most of these contributors seem to be about the same age and from approximately the same demographic. Not against any literary laws, but it's an editorial choice that creates a certain monotony across the essays.

On the one hand, I want to congratulate Sari Botton, the volume editor, for getting this project organized and wrangled into print. That's a real accomplishment. On the other hand, the book reads like the product of one of those ads that turn up in the "Poets & Writers" classifieds, where the prospective editors of a prospective anthology solicit contributions on a particular topic. For all I know, that's exactly how this book came about.

The book is a conscious (and sometimes cloyingly self-conscious) homage to Joan Didion's essay "Goodbye to All That." Didion's essay stands alone as an exemplar of the loving-and-leaving-NYC genre and is in no need of this or any other kind of homage, so it's hard to understand why the world needed this book.

Nevertheless, it does offer some mildly enjoyable reading along with a lot of "meh."
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on October 11, 2013
As a former New Yorker who left for the sunnier skies of LA eight years ago, I thoroughly related to and loved this book. I savored each essay, reading only a few each night, so that I could enjoy the book longer. What's funny is that when I left, I thought I was the only one who'd experienced the weird combination of exhilaration and freedom with nostalgia and doubt. Little did I know how many others not only felt the same, but could articulate it a heck of a lot better.
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on October 3, 2013
I found the stories in Good Bye to All of That touching and well written.The whole book is crisply edited and a joy to read.The personal nature of these short stories is very compelling making it hard to put the book down.Thank you
, Sari Botton and your team of writers for such a good read.
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on October 3, 2013
Two years ago, when I was facing leaving New York City to go live full-time with my husband across the Hudson River, I tried to find a book just like this to help me with that difficult decision. I really wondered: What would life be AFTER New York? Now, thanks to Sari Botton, there are 28 wonderful essays written by a talented group of writers on just this subject. Here are perspectives of people who were born there, and those who moved there looking for some dream. Some left and eventually returned, others were happy in their new lives elsewhere. All were incredibly illuminating. I highly recommend this book for anyone who ever loved (or hated) New York, anyone thinking of moving there. You'll end up feeling like you've made 28 new friends.
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on October 3, 2013
Loved reading this book~ Especially since I love and left New York :)
The editor of the book did an exceptional job.
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on April 15, 2015
In the individual stories there is much good writing. however, aggregated in this volume the stories begin to sound repetitive - young women who move to (or back to) NY to pursue creative writing, find the financial cost too high, and then move elsewhere. Mostly during the same 10 year period. I would have preferred more varied perspectives on the titular theme.
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on April 27, 2014
I read this book for two reasons : to understand the appeal of living in New York and to compare writing styles of 28 writers in a single book. I had always thought of New York as " a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there " kind of place. After reading the book I now have a better understanding of what draws people there. I think I already knew reasons they would leave. They say NYC is a city of 8 million stories. Here are 28 of them. They are varied enough to give very different views of the same city. Most of the writers were likable with only a few that were arrogantly insipid.
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on January 7, 2014
I enjoyed reading many of these short essays on what drew these writers to live in New York, then what compelled them to leave. This cycle of drawing then repelling people is common; I know many people, including myself, that have experienced it.

Some of the essays are more enjoyable and effective at making the point than others. Some simply seem to employ shock to make their point, while making no original or compelling point at all. Theirs are more autobiographical and vain than expository. Or perhaps they are just masochistic or simply blame New York for their lack of greater success.

For a book-length exploration of a writer struggling to ply her trade in the city then being drawn, by love, to farming in upstate New York, see The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball. She returns many times to the qualities of the city that draw and repel. Just by the cover of Kimball's book, we know that it's a woman's story. But nowhere, except in the negative comments, do we know that Leaving All That reflects an exclusively young, female perspective. There's certainly a great deal of interest in that perspective, then why hide it? Why not Women Writers on Loving and Leaving New York? There's something profoundly disingenuous, even deceitful about this. Just a marketing ploy?

But all the arguments here boil down to this: New York City has an attraction that writers, and many artists, cannot resist, perhaps to their detriment. Come if you must, but leave before it eats you up. We all learned that in the Sunscreen commencement speech. Only a few of the essays offer meaningful insight, but it's conceited to compare to Didion's essay in Slouching Toward Bethlehem, and all of these essays pale in comparison. They might have stood up better without the tribute to Didion as the organizing conceit.

A point perhaps under-explored here is the growing irrelevance of place for a writer. At least geographically. Publishers are now more interested in your following on the Internet when considering publishing you, not where you live.

It would be interesting and perhaps more relevant now to collect the stories of artists that still need to ply their trade in the city, like actors.
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on January 17, 2014
I was told about this book while considering to leave NYC. I was told you either need to read it immediately, or never read it at all because of the potency of the stories. I ran to my kindle and downloaded it immediately. It was exactly what I needed to read. All the things that people love to hate, and hate to love about NYC are in this book. Beautifully written stories, wonderfully organized, perfect. A must read for anybody who is struggling over leaving this amazing city.
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on November 16, 2013
As a current New Yorker, reading this book has been thought provoking in a painful and funny way. The stories these authors tell are so similar to my own experiences, and although I don't agree with some of their attitudes and conclusions I can see how they got there. A probing look at why we all think of New York as so glamorous, and the ways in which that illusion fades.
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