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A New York Memoir Hardcover – August 30, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Like many, Goodman (French Dirt) moved to New York City in search of a home, a place in which he might feel comfortable and thrive. He found it "against the backdrop of a massive city of unmatchable energy and sheer, brute authority." In this tribute to Goodman's home of three decades, he shares extraordinary events and everyday occurrences, like the theft of his prized bike, a "Raleigh three-speed, English, heavy, black, and one of the most remarkable machines I've ever had. It was no effete, high-strung, ten-speed from Italy or Japan." He mourns the devastation of 9/11, but also celebrates the connections he's made, particularly to Ann Silberling, a Greenwich Village neighbor, one of those cosmopolitan women who "give the place a consistent dignity by their dress, decorum, and demeanor. They demand respect, and by their savvy, grace, and deep understanding of how to encounter New York City, they get it." Sections set outside New York, such as his description of restaurant work in Cambridge, Mass. or a year spent in France, fit awkwardly, a few misses in a thin volume of genuine hits. (Aug.)
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"In this tribute to Goodman's home of three decades, he shares extraordinary events and everyday occurrences, like the theft of his prized bike, a 'Raleigh three-speed, English, heavy, black, and one of the most remarkable machines I've ever had. It was no effete, high-strung, ten-speed from Italy or Japan.' He mourns the devastation of 9/11, but also celebrates the connections he's made, particularly to Ann Silberling, a Greenwich Village neighbor, one of those cosmopolitan women who 'give the place a consistent dignity by their dress, decorum, and demeanor. They demand respect, and by their savvy, grace, and deep understanding of how to encounter New York City, they get it.'"
"The massiveness of New York is hard for anyone to take head on. A New York Memoir is a memoir from Richard Goodman as he reflects on arriving in New York in 1975 and the challenges he faced in living in the city that never sleeps. A story of chasing one's dream and the constant array of challenges that are tossed at someone over three decades, A New York Memoir is an excellent read that will be hard to put down."
—Midwest Book Review
"So much more than an engaging memoir of New York, this is a heart laid bare. One can learn much from this man who feels tender toward cobblestones and old women, nostalgic about a daughter's childhood, frightened at the prospect of dying alone—a rare individual who, with honesty, sensuousness, and keen observation, turns yearning and remembrance into art."
—Susan Vreeland, author of Luncheon at the Boating Party and Girl in Hyacinth Blue
"Richard Goodman's rapturous book will make you miss New York City even if you've never been there. It's a highly poetic tribute to a city that, while it can overwhelm you, is still the ultimate city of dreams, an incubator for anyone who's ever fostered a dream of revealing the best in themselves. Richard Goodman's dazzling book made me realize that once you've lived in New York, you can never leave, no matter where you go."
—Rebecca Walker, author of Black White and Jewish and Baby Love
"[The] stories weave an endearing account of the author’s life and how the city became part of his soul. . . . It’s a great read and you will find yourself enthralled even if you’ve never been to New York."
—Margaret Oleska, Richmond Books Examiner
"[Richard Goodman] reminds us that the spaces we inhabit are containers for and shapers of our emotions and lives. The cobblestones of Soho, 'bullion cubes' of shiny solidness, 'vulnerable and delicate,' reflect the light and sounds of the neighborhood but also disperse the heartbreak of a failed relationship. In his typically poignant prose, Goodman captures perfectly the communal loneliness of a late-night subway platform, and in these vignettes of both the physical aspects of the city and the people he meets living there, paints a rich picture, one that, in spite of the occasional tinge of melancholy, is as proud and protective of New York as the best works of E. B. White."
"Wherever he goes, Richard Goodman takes you with him. Those experiences that were once his are now yours, too. In peerless prose, Goodman's A New York Memoir conveys you to a writers' enclave in Soho (where you lose your soul to love), the kitchen of a French chef, your friend Ann's apartment in Greenwich Village—even excursions to Maine and Provence, France. You'll never be the same again now that you've seen and heard and felt and thought with Richard. You'll be surprised at the long, precise reach of your metaphors now. Time-travel has become as supple as navigating New York. Your own life takes on some sort of shape, or promises to. A double life, maybe a multiple life, skating on sentences smooth as glass—that's what you'll get, not just a book. I promise."
—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife and Adam & Eve
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In "A New York Memoir," Goodman writes as an insider. New York has Goodman's heart and his roots are tangled in her soil. It is New York that became the smithy of his soul. He gives us a sensuous tribute to a city that can both overwhelm and forge greatness. Goodman's heart is laid bare in his story of New York.
It is impossible to choose my favorite essay from his wonderful collection. I love "When I'm Sixty-four" because it is funny and truthful. I can imagine black heel marks behind him as he skids down the hall toward aging. Perhaps, I like it so much because I'm sixty-four (with those same black heel marks behind me.) Or, perhaps my vote should go to the "Wheaton Girl." It is a story of such familiar sadness. My own mother tried to repair her broken heart with drink but unlike mine, Goodman's story ends with redemption and love. Or maybe my favorite is the macabre, drop-dead funny, it-could-only-happen-in-New York, "The Ceiling Leak." Or, the heart wrenching "Bicycle Diaries," where Goodman chronicles the day the world held its breath and then wept.
I am holding my breath for the next book from this marvelous author.
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