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New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009 (Modern Library) Hardcover – January 3, 2012
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"The most convivial and unorthodox history of New York City one is likely to come across... There are so many fine moments in ‘New York Diaries: 1609-2009’ that it’s impossible to list them all.” --Dwight Garner, New York Times
"Hilarious as it is heartbreaking, New York Diaries is a must read for anyone who has fallen in love with the Big Apple."--Darren Richard Carlaw, The New York Journal of Books
“I think the most fun way to read New York Diaries would be to keep it by your bedside. . . the effect, oftentimes, is of a chorus of voices, separated by decades, even centuries, unconsciously echoing the same sentiments and complaints.” –Maureen Corrigan, NPR Books
"As comprehensive as it is revealing, making the city come alive in its glamour and grime."--Susannah Cahalan, New York Post
"One of the eminently readable, and easily approachable, tomes on Big Apple history, one that will enchant and satisfy with its depth of detail and breadth of range."--DigitalJournal.com
"[A] remarkable feat of an anthology."--BrainPickings.com
About the Author
Teresa Carpenter is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestseller Missing Beauty. She is a former senior editor of The Village Voice, where her feature articles on crime and the law won a Pulitzer Prize in 1981. She lives in New York City’s Greenwich Village with her husband, writer Steven Levy, and their son.
Top customer reviews
It took someone as gifted as Carpenter to figure out how to portray New York City and all that it has stood for over the past 400 years.
As soon as I cracked open the book, like many others, I'm sure, I wanted to know what the diarists were saying on my birthday. On that day in 1949, John Cheever took his daughter Susie to a party on Fifth Avenue ("In the brume the long double track of street lamps seems yellow.") Then Christmas: In 1986, Andy Warhol "...went to the Church of the Heavenly Rest to pass out Interviews and feed the poor...Got a lot of calls to go to Christmas parties but I just decided to stay in and I loved it."
Then, when I heard a review of the book on NPR, I decided to take the reviewer up on her suggestion of reading an entry of the book every night before going to bed. Now I keep the book by my bed and that's exactly what I do. Come December 31, I'll miss my routine terribly.
But there are many many ways to absorb this glorious collection of carefully culled diary entries. Go at it straight on and straight through, or pick and choose as you like. Whichever way you decide to absorb this fascinating book, you won't be sorry.
Set out in a calendar fashion editor Teresa Carpenter has chosen scores of diary snippets....none more than two pages or so...and some as few as one sentence. I loved her criterion for selection....she chose these simply because she liked them. In January we read about President George Washington's aching tooth and we grieve a month later with Theodore Roosevelt concerning the death of his beloved young wife and his mother on the same day. But the important point about "New York Diaries" is that here we grieve WITH Roosevelt as much as for him. There's an understandable "we are there" quality to each and every entry, no matter who the diarist is.
Many of the entries evoke raw emotions (especially about the wars witnessed) but some are amusing. It's nice to know that "brain freezes" (from eating ice cream too quickly) date back as far as 1849 and that turning just one page in this book reveals this new round-the-clock banking...(ATMs)...from 1987. Readers will find themsleves, no doubt, having "favorite" diarists. I have two...the first is George Templeton Strong, whose forty years of chronicles deliver a wonderful history of New York before and after the Civil War. The second is a man whom I never heard of...Leo Lerman, a Conde Nast editor, who kept an eye on New York Society for almost as long as Strong recorded his thoughts.
There is so much here to be devoured that it's almost a shame that a compilation of this sort has only 366 possible dates. But "New York Diaries" is a treasure and kudos to Teresa Carpenter for her expert editing and her eye for including some of the most fascinating New York stories.