Thinking of going on a New York holiday? With so much to see and do in one of the great capital cities of the world – if not the actual country oddly enough – the decision to go there is a simple one, what to see and do is slightly a bit tougher. You could hit up the iconic sites, check out some theatre on broadway or fine out what New York is like after dark.
To get you in the mood and perhaps give you a taste of what the city is like today and has been like down through the decades here’s a few of the choicest cuts from the literary side of the city. Or, to put it more succinctly, books based in New York.
Bright Lights Big City: Jay McInerney
The evocative title has lent itself to all sorts of wonderful pieces of art down through the years, the Jimmmy Reed song is apersonal favourite and McInerny does it justice with his crime soaked, drug sodden thriller based around the New York of the 1980s. The main protagonist is a hack writer who appears to believe he owns Manhanattan and whistles through an endless orgy of fashion shows, night clubs and loft parties until eventually he has to realise that perhaps there is more to life than what has been thus far sustaining him.
Old New York: Edith Wharton
This collection of four novellas from the always wonderful Wharton shows a different New York, one before September 11, before prohibition , basically before New York became what the city it is today. Each story takes place in a seperate decade of the 19th century and features plenty of love, loss, and a whole lot of infidelity. Old New York is a splendid portrayal of the city and a great introduction to Wharton.
A Freewheelin’ Time: Suze Rotolo
Something a bit different now, a biography and a musical one at that. Want to know what it was like living in New York in the sixties, when drugs were rampant, music was splendid and the love was most certainly free,- well unless you paid for it – Rotolo’s got the answers for you and so should she.
You see, Rotolo as the book’s cover so helpfully suggests, just happened to be the muse and girlfriend of one Bob Dylan right at the formative stage of his career. Dylan classics like Girl of the North Country, Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather and One Too Many Mornings were all probaly inspired by the woman Dylan once called the “most erotic thing I’ve ever seen.” Rotolo died not long after its release, so this is her last word on the subject, well, if you don’t count all the interviews she gave for its publicity.
So, there you have it a personal selection of books that take a look at New York, but what’s your favourite book about the city?