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Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York Hardcover – October 10, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Back from living in Paris with his wife and two kids, as chronicled charmingly in Paris to the Moon, Gopnik, a writer for the New Yorker, records in his tidy, writerly and obsessive fashion his family's relocation to the city of his earliest professional aspiration: New York. No longer the grim, decrepit hell of the 1970s, New York of the new century has become a children's city, infused by a "new paternal feeling," and doting father Gopnik is delighted to walk through the Children's Gate of Central Park to relive the romance of childhood. His 20 various essays meander over topics dear to the hearts of New York parents, such as learning to be appropriately Jewish ("A Purim Story"); working with the ad hoc committee called Artists and Anglers at his son's hypercaring private school, on methods of flight for the production of Peter Pan; and his four-year-old daughter's imaginary playmate, Charlie Ravioli, who is simply too booked to play with her. The less structured series of essays on Thanksgiving are most pleasing and read like diaries, ranging from the rage over noise to the safety of riding buses. Gopnik conveys in his mannered, occasionally gilded prose that New York still represents a kind of childlike hope—"for something big to happen." 150,000 copy first printing. (Oct.)
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*Starred Review* Gopnik's previous book, the best-selling Paris to the Moon (2000), drew its material in large part from his "Paris Journal" column appearing in the New Yorker. That book shared his and his family's experiences living in the City of Light for five years. In 2000 he and they moved back to New York, and in his new collection of essays, he demonstrates anew how, despite tackling two of the world's greatest and oft-written-about cities, he has staked out his own mastery of the literature of place. As Gopnik ranges over contemporary life in the Big Apple, bringing into his purview and commentary such specific topics as raising children in that vastly busy environment and indulging in one of the city's favorite preoccupations (namely, consulting a psychotherapist), he lets there be no mistake that these pieces are literate, serious in his analysis of social issues (even though he can be funny at the same time), deeply thought out and well reasoned, and arise from not only an immaculate writerly talent but also a sharp ability to understand why people, in particular places, do peculiar things. Brad Hooper
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I expected a book of stories about life in New York. While I got this in some ways I got it in such a way as to be at times rendered speechless. This book contains laugh out loud elements (stories of his children) and parts which brought me to tears (the ending of the Giant Metrozoids). It has also inspired me to do a whole lot more reading, all the books which Gopnik refers to are now on my reading list.
I am not a New Yorker, but, after a week there in 2006 now miss this city so desperately from my home in Australia, that I am amazed. Gopnik captured my feelings in this book. The moments of clarity that I had to share with the people I was travelling with, and will become pearls of wisdom for staff meetings when I am required to talk.
Would I recommend this book? Of this I am unsure. It is a highly observationalist book, looking at the society in which the author lives and grasping for the truth that is found within. It is also in the nature of critical literacy, so some deep thinking is required on the part of the reader. I usually read a book every day or two when travelling (particularly when in a country where English is not found readily) my addiction is to the pages, not the 'screens or cards'. But this book took me nearly two weeks, and I feel a need now to re-read it. To high light and mark the pearls I have discovered in the manner of a university text so that I can give these the true depth of consideration they deserve.
All in all though, this was a book I can see myself reading again and again one which spoke to my soul so truly that I can hear the sirens of NYC echoing down the streets, smell the hotdog venders and feel the wind in my face. This book will tide me over until I get to go back again.
This one is a particularly sweet revelation.