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New York is Hell: Thinking and Drinking in the Beautiful Beast Paperback – November 28, 2016
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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This is a great book, but I will pause for a moment to laugh at the attempted autocorrect to turn "acumen" into "scum".
De Casseres expounds with wit on his most precious pastime in many of the pieces: drinking. His thoughts on prohibition are throughout and he describes many long-gone establishments and people with candor and sincerity.
The work is rife with brilliant oddball perception: "Democracy's aspiration to aristocracy is embodied in being Somebody", as is his
critique of a then-current New York as "Yahoo land out of the brain of a Poe".
I am particularly taken by his fascination with the lions of the New York Library, they are mentioned a handful of times, but specifically in a story that reaches mythic delirium.
This book has immediately become one of my favorites about New York, but the content, style and insight clearly offer more than just a New York history. "The Triumph of Shame Over Darwin", a feverish description of the madness of subway travel as an example, is both hilarious and succinctly ingenious.
For fans of Anton LaVey, Ben Hecht, egoism, and the like. It really should be on the bookshelf of any self-respecting iconoclast, particularly those who remember the New York of the old days before the city was sanitized for the tourist masses.