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Grand Central Winter: Stories from the Street Paperback – July 6, 2010
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Grand Central Winter is the tale of Stringer's twin addictions--writing and crack--and the lengths he went to in order to satisfy each. But Stringer dwells on neither his descent into hell nor the long journey back. Instead, he paints a nuanced portrait of street life itself, its pleasures as well as its terrors. Hustlers, hookers, dealers, and addicts come to life in a series of vignettes that are tough, unsentimental, but compassionate to the core. There's honest rage to be found in Grand Central Winter, but precious little political posturing. "Policy is never the real issue," he writes in "Dear Homey," his advice column for New York's homeless paper, Street News. "The real issue is the hearts of men." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In this short book, Stringer tells his street stories which have the power to make a grown man swear and choke back tears at the same time; I've witnessed this myself more than once. This book is written with a mix of grit and fragmented paragraphs to produce an amazingly unique style that illustrates the dark and haunted caverns in the writer's mind. Stringer found his way off of drugs and mean streets by writing about his experiences and sharing them in the homeless publication Street News which he later went on to edit. His stories are raw and loud.
This country cares too little for its disenfranchised, and too easily looks away from the homeless and downtrodden (Stringer says,"They see only a phenomenon to which they have already adjusted"). Stringer's words will thread readers' hearts with the compassion they require to truly live an examined life in the USA. And besides, the guy is so quotable: "It's the guilt, fear, and stones in your own heart that take you down;" or "Heroism, as I see it, requires a deliberate decision to assume avoidable risks specifically--not incidentally--for the sake of another." Stringer's is an important voice. Do not miss this book.
In the first place, Stringer doesn't claim to be writing social commentary or advocating social reforms. His book is a memoir, pure and simple. His stories are from the street, as the book's subtitle announces, but not necessarily about the street. Obviously in describing his life on the streets, Stringer necessarily sheds some light on what street life in general is like. Just as obviously, he also has a few things to say in passing about public policy (he's especially bitter about the "antiseptic Good Samaritanism" of large-scale relief agencies). But the focus of his book is sharing his own experiences living on the street.
And this takes us to the second point: Stringer's writes about selected experiences. He's not really trying to tell a neatly packaged story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. (Philosophers might describe his approach as "phenomenological.") I don't know why Stringer chose to write about the episodes in his life he did. Some of them are probably consciously chosen; others may've forced themselves onto the empty page. But the point is that they're vignettes, not sequential episodes that together tell a full-fledged story.
For my money, the vignettes are wonderfully written. Their minimalist style sets an almost photographic tone: to the point, revelatory, unsentimental, sometimes grim. Stringer successfully resists the temptation to demonize or romanticize.
I was disappointed. Stringer CAN write, which he proves by including in this undemanding (but refreshingly unassuming) autobiography extracts from his magazine column, which are eloquent, finely crafted and full of attitude. Why then, does his book seem so rushed, unstructured and sloppy in comparison?
Sure, his story is an interesting one, and he does tell it with admirable (and enjoyable) honesty. But it seems like a cobbled together hodgepodge of sacharine memories, scraps of previously published material, and disjointed annecdotes and stories. The overall impression is one of a manuscript that fell short of the required number of words, was padded out with unimaginative extras, and repetition of previous sections (with slightly different wording) then dropped carelessly, only to be equally carelessly gathered back up and delivered to the publishers without being set back in some sort of order.
I have the utmost admiration for Stringer, his honesty and eventual progress. But I get the feeling that most people are basing their opinions of this book on their own admiration for the author, rather than its literary qualities, which, unless we're talking about different books here, are rather scant.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing! I could not put this book down. I strongly recommend it.Published 5 months ago by Paulette Healy
Well written with unexpected humor. Provides insight into addiction and its consequences.Published 18 months ago by Solveig
Addiction is difficult for me to understand. Thank goodness for the help offered to the addicted. The first step is the hardest in seeking the help. Read morePublished 24 months ago by MAB
I remember the days of Street News, and it was good to read of the care that went into production, but also the economics of distribution. Read morePublished on August 13, 2013 by J Risner
Great writing from one who could be the next Hemingway or Fitzgerald. (I was required to write 8 more words but have no more to say).Published on February 16, 2013 by Conor Wynn
Really, really loved this author's way with words. I was living in New York during the time Mr. Stringer is writing about and so much came back to me. I feel Mr. Read morePublished on January 20, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Lee Stringer suffered the death of his business partner and then his brother—the first a bump in the road, the second a mind-numbing grief that led him to heavy drinking, then... Read morePublished on January 12, 2013 by J. Stensrude