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Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York Paperback – November 6, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400075750
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400075751
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I should preface this review with some background: I am a pediatrician, working and living in New York, and this book first caught my eye just from the title. When I read the jacket liner and discovered it was, at least in part, about raising children in New York, I felt I had to give it a whirl. I was not too familiar with Gopnik's essays in The New Yorker, though his name was familiar to me and his writing had been recommended to me many times. It was with this background sense of his work that I began to read.

And read, I did. From the first moment I picked up this book I was engulfed and enthralled. This book is a collection of essays written from the author's perspective. He had lived in Paris for 5 years on assignment for The New Yorker Magazine, and returned to New York City in 2000 primarily out of homesickness and out of a desire to raise his family there. Gopnik knows New York, but a lot had changed since the last time he lived here, and this collection of essays is really about his rediscovery of the city, through his own eyes as well as those of others: his children, most notably, but also his wife and some of his close friends. His essays, which feel at times more like stories, are of course tempered by and work through the enormity of 9/11. And the New York he describes is as much the New York of and around 9/11 as it is the New York that it always has been and yet also a new city formed by nothing other than the march of progress.

His subject matter is of two parts, both close to my own heart--New York city and children. He does them both such amazing justice in this book.

Gopnik's prose is a joy to behold, both familiar and formal, intricately planned yet at times stream-of-consciousness in style.
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Format: Hardcover
Readers of The New Yorker who relish each issue that contains an Adam Gopnik essay will be delighted that 20 of them have been collected in this rich offering of his work. Those unacquainted with Gopnik's graceful and allusive prose are likely to become instant fans.

Taking its title from the name of the Central Park entrance at Seventy-sixth Street and Fifth Avenue, the collection is unified by Gopnik's captivating insights into the lives of his precocious children, Luke and Olivia, as they adapt to life in their new home. That focus is apt, for, he observes, about the Upper West Side world into which they settle, comfortably but not entirely without unease, "a constant obsessive-compulsive anxiety about children --- their health, their future, the holes in their socks, and the fraying of their psyches --- is taken entirely for granted here."

In September 2000 Gopnik and his family returned to New York, after five years in Paris that provided the material for his acclaimed book PARIS TO THE MOON. In that time, he notes, "The map of the city we carried just five years ago hardly corresponds to the city we know today, while the New Yorks we knew before that are buried completely." That first autumn is portrayed as an idyllic time, its innocence made more poignant when viewed backwards through the lens of 9/11.

Two of the pieces, "The City and the Pillars" and "Urban Renewal," deal explicitly with the events of that day and its aftermath, but the fear and anxiety it engendered shadow much of Gopnik's narrative.
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By dave on November 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Reading the preceding review reminds me that our society is full of disturbed people, the kind who wait around for books they expect not to like (get a life, pal). Perhaps these are also the folks preying upon our children; I don't know haven't checked the local police registry. As a father of two, I was really moved by Adam Gopnik stories of raising his kids in New York, trying to fullfill the dream that brings so many people to that amazing city while still pulling off the commonplace miracle of child-rearing. What struck me most--I was born in the rural midwest but married a NYC gal and lived there for two years before heading for its suburbs to raise my brood--what struck me most is how much raising kids in New York is just like raising them anywhere else, oddly enough. There are some strange peripheral realities, toddlers with cellphones, playing ball in the most famous park in the world, but the emotions are universal and this is what Gopnik captures with priceless wit and warmth and eloquence. Troubled indeed is the heart that isn't moved by the spectacle he evokes. The most purely pleasurable book I've read this year. As an ordained minister, I'm recommending it to my congregation. Family values with great entertainment value to boot.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm surprised by the negative comments Gopnik's writing elicits from several reviewers in this Amazon context. I think Adam Gopnik is simply one of the finest writers we have at present. Sometimes his writing evokes Joan Didion, particularly when he writes of New York jazz or the ways in which important cities like NYC change over time. I simply love Through the Children's Gate, because of this writer's optimism in a less than optimistic moment. Gopnik's perspective helps me to guard against "bitterosity," the dread disease that killed Oliva's imaginary friend's new wife, Kweeda, and seems to have afflicted some amazon reviewers of Gopnik's work.
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