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The Subway Chronicles: Scenes from Life in New York Paperback – August 29, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Here is a delightful collection of New York stories by veteran straphangers—both known and unknown—dedicated to that amazing underground network. Along with expected accounts of the unsavory run-ins with weirdoes and stink bombs during the usual subway commute (e.g., Daniels Parseliti's "Porno Man and I Versus the Feminist Avenger and Displaced Anger Man"), many of these authors offer poignant memories of riding the trains over the years, such as Jonathan Lethem's account of haunting the eponymous station in "Speak, Hoyt-Schermerhorn" as a white, liberal-middle-class kid immersed in a fringe area of crime and poverty. "Parnassus Underground" by Patrick Flynn recalls joyfully the meaty reading the author was able to accomplish during long workday commutes from the Bronx, before he moved and (to his literary despair) shortened his travel time. Robert Lanham's "Straphanger Doppelgänger" records the chilling encounter between two commuters of uncanny resemblance who have observed each other over a long period. Most gratifying are the historical details worked into many of the essays, such as the comparison between Russian and New York underground railroads as noted by Boris Fishman in "Metro Blues, or How I Came to America." This is a clever collection gathered by Cangro from her Web site, thesubwaychronicles.com. (Sept.)
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About the Author
Jacquelin Cangro, founder of thesubwaychronicles.com, has had her work published in literary journals and is a monthly columnist for Learning Through History magazine. She recently completed her first novel.
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In addition to learning about the subway and how it affects the people who ride, you'll get a feel for the psyche of the urban dweller--folks who live their life without a car--an unimaginable state of being in the small town or suburban life (or even big city like LA or Houston)that has come to dominate American culture. But even the occasional visitor to New York will recognize him or herself in the essays--many of the authors pay homage of sorts to the tourists, riders oblivious to the nuances, problems or culture of the system, who are just happy to be able to get where they want to go.
Though, as I've said, the essays in this book are all different, one overall pattern of difference comes through. The writers in the book who are native to New York tend to write wistful, nostalgic essays about aspects of the Subway that have changed or disappeared. The writers who have come to New York from elsewhere more often focus on bizarre things they witnessed: "Guess what I saw!" This difference in focal point of the essays reflects a difference in the people that I meet personally in New York, as well.
I take my hat off to the author, great job!