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"Talking about New York is a way of talking about the world." I've been reading this book with my mother, who is 350 miles away, as a way to keep engaged with each other when we have to be apart. For her, it reminds her of the bus and train trips she used to take to New York every summer in the 60s. For me, it's fragments of thousands of thoughts I've had living and working in New York these past twenty years. We were both saying how timeless and universal the writing is; for a place that changes so quickly, this book could be any era, and resonate with anyone who has a special place in their heart for New York City. The writing is like poetry, so many great lines - "At the corner he wrestles with a ghost for the soul of his umbrella.". So clever and visceral. I really enjoyed this book, I can see myself re-reading it a few times.
I'm not too sure if this book cracked my heart open, or if my heart was already cracked open and it simply slipped on in to fill the empty spaces.
Whitehead so well captures various bits of New York City in this essay collection. I'd read an excerpt from the opening essay before, about how "You start building your private New York the first time you lay eyes on it." (Love that idea.) From there he goes on to describe the Port Authority, city sidewalks in the rain, the subway, walking down Broadway, Coney Island, rush hour, and more.
This isn't a romanticization of the city, rather, it's an enscapulation of what so many of us have experienced. Definitely the sort of book I'll reread.
I wish I knew Colson. He seems to have grown up a stone's throw from me because I heard all of those things he observed and experienced too. This narrative is so nuanced, so precise, I can smell the subway and the Sabrett man too.
Some incredible writing and grab-you identifiable insights into NYC. And some alternative perspectives. The problem for me is that the book gradually turns into a seriously depressed person’s several hour monologue disguised as various characters’ voices. Sort of someone with multiple personalities all in urgent need of help.
I am looking forward to reading this book. Until then, I can only judge by the cover, which is actually PEELING OFF! The graphics are apparently printed on an extremely thin piece of paper which is peeling off the thicker paper cover. This was not a used copy. It was (supposed to be) new.
I’ve talked to my friends about this book since I began reading it. Mr. Whitehead’s prose and narrative sweep the reader along on an intimate journey through NYC from the eyes and thoughts of its public. What a great book. I may get a hard copy to add to my shelves to share and read again.
This little sort of tone poem captures some of the beauty and some of the meanness of New York life. I didn't come away from THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK as being negative toward the city, but even if Mr. Whitehead were, we New Yorkers need our cranks and curmudgeons. It makes us part of who we are, after all.
The free style works MOST of the time. When it doesn't, it really doesn't. (It is no coincidence that the most straight-forward section, the introduction, is the most superb!) THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK doesn't have the lyricism of E.B. White's THIS IS NEW YORK, but it doesn't pretend to want to be like it, anyway. Colson Whitehead's piece is more like Whitman's poetry, as he rambled along the old downtown streets and piers, and recorded his scenes and his feelings about them. Yes, this book could have been greater, but it doesn't take away from the power much of it has. So if you're looking for a history of or guidebook to New York City, this is not the book. But if you're looking for the evocative power of New York, written in a personal, lyrical style, you won't find many better than THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK.