Monday, December 18, 2023

Seven books that capture New York City’s many sides

Jonathan Wells is the author of a memoir, The Skinny, and three collections of poems: Debris (2021), The Man with Many Pens (2015), and Train Dance.

The Sterns Are Listening is his first work of fiction.

At Lit Hub he tagged seven books that "do for me and New York City what I think the best writing does: animate, transform and illuminate." One title on the list:
E. L. Doctorow, Billy Bathgate

E.L. Doctorow’s 1989 novel was one of the first books that showed me how expansive and textured the first person voice could be. Written through the eyes of a boy who catches the attention of Jewish gangster Dutch Schultz, the opening chapter describes how the boss’s accomplices fashion a pair of concrete shoes for turncoat Bo Weinberg as a tugboat carries them out of New York harbor toward the Atlantic Ocean.

The captain describes the return journey, “You’d come up the East River just before dawn. City fast asleep. First you’d see the sun on the gulls, they’d turn white. Then the top of the Hell Gate turned to gold.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue