New York, New York…

15 Jan

Around this time last year, I began planning a trip to New York. I was very excited, it was not only my first proper excursion to New York as a legally drinking adult, but also my first attempt at holidaying pretty much by myself. No shopping blow-out for me; I packed my sketch book and some disposable black and white cameras to take arty, New-Yorky

pictures with. I bought my copy of Time Out New York and trawled the internet to book my hostel beds…The thing that took up most of my time however, was my reading list; I wanted to be fully prepared for soaking up the literary sights and sounds of the city, to arrive steeped in a sense of the gritty, the glamorous and the avant-gardist sensibilites this sublime city seems to represent, for me anyway. My list went as follows: Motherless Brooklyn and the Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem, Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin, The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Junior, possibly also Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and maybe even some Edith Wharton. It was ambitious I’ll admit. I managed the Baldwin and Paul Auster’s Invisible and re-read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man but didn’t quite get round to the rest. And needless to say, I didn’t do much reading on my trip.

I’m lucky enough to be going again this year and my thoughts have again turned to some suitably New Yorky reading. This time round however, I’ve got my eye on some non-fiction titles for a change. First up is Jan Morris’s reissued Manhattan ’45, about the city’s post-war period. Her name has been on my radar ever since her also reissued Coast to Coast landed on our book tables. The idea of a cross-country US grand tour has always appealed to me and I had it earmarked for when I eventually take up reading travel writing (still meaning to do that!). Having just read The Best of Everything, a proto-Sex and the City-esque saga about four women living and loving in New York in the fifties, the brand new The Group by Mary McCarthy, set twenty years earlier, is equally tempting, despite its historical chick-lit cover. Edmund White’s City Boy, a memoir about his experiences in 60s and 70s has also caught my eye. Maybe I’ll even manage to get round to Just Kids, my ‘next book’ for about 9 months now….sigh

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