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Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New Yorkby Adam Gopnik
"[N]o tactician of letters has shown a greater knack for worming his way into our hearts whether we want him there or not than Adam Gopnik....It isn't that Gopnik is ungifted or imperceptive, or a slickster trickster like his colleague Malcolm Gladwell....He is avidly talented and spongily absorbent, an earnest little eager beaver whose twitchy aura of neediness makes him hard to dislike until the preciosity simply becomes too much." James Wolcott, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
Following Adam Gopnik's best-selling Paris to the Moon, the adventure continues against the panorama of another storied city.
Autumn, 2000: the Gopnik family moves back to a New York that seems, at first, safer and shinier than ever. Here are the triumphs and travails of father, mother, son and daughter; and of the teachers, coaches, therapists, adversaries and friends who round out the extended urban family. From Bluie, a goldfish fated to meet a Hitchcockian end, to Charlie Ravioli, an imaginary playmate who, being a New Yorker, is too busy to play, Gopnik's New York is charmed by the civilization of childhood. It is a fabric of living, which, though rent by the events of 9/11, will reweave itself, reviving a world where Jewish jokes mingle with debates about the problem of consciousness, the price of real estate and the meaning of modern art. By turns elegant and exultant, written with a signature mix of mind and heart, Through the Children's Gate is at once a celebration of a newly fragile city and a poignant study of a family trying to find its way, and joy, within it.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"As Gopnik ranges over contemporary life in the Big Apple...he lets there be no mistake that these pieces are literate, serious in his analysis of social issues...deeply thought out and well reasoned..." Booklist (Starred Review)
"This collection of humorous and sentimental essays, which show modern New York City as both a home and a playground...will be welcome as a collection by readers who enjoyed Paris to the Moon." Library Journal
"Some set pieces may seem dated, like the yoga moms or the battles for taxis, but this is only because glossy magazines have moved on, not because New Yorkers have; real moms still downward dog and steal your cab." John Leland, The New York Times
"...Gopnik is a wonder of a writer. This book is that rarity, an intelligent meditation that is also a pleasurable time spent with a lively thinker....He's the very model of urbanity: frankly, unsentimentally, wisely enchanted." Los Angeles Times
"Here's a sure sign of a good read: by the time you reach the last third of Gopnik's book, you may still wonder at his broaching yet another apparently random, idiosyncratic topic, but you now entirely trust where the writer will take you." Seattle Times
"Gopnik's chronicle...reads as much like a picaresque voyage of self-discovery as a love story, a quest for the wonder of childhood, the making of a home and the restoration of hope and possibility." San Francisco Chronicle
"In the same way that Woody Allen and E.B. White slipped a permanent lens on New York so that no one will ever again be able to experience the place without filtering it through their vision, Gopnik has captured and redefined our first and best city." Chicago Sun-Times
Following the best-selling Paris to the Moon, the continuation of the Gopniks adventures against the panorama of a different though no less storied city as they attempt to make a new home for themselves.
Autumn 2000: After five years in Paris, Adam Gopnik moves his family back to a New York that seems, at first, safer and shinier than ever. Here in the wondrously strange “neighborhood” of Manhattan we observe the triumphs and travails of father, mother, son, and daughter; and of the teachers, coaches, therapists, adversaries, and friends who round out the extended urban family. From Bluie, a goldfish fated to meet a Hitchcockian end, to Charlie Ravioli, an imaginary playmate who, being a New Yorker, is too busy to play, the Gopniks new home is under the spell of the sort of characters only the citys unique civilization of childhood could produce.
Not long after their return, the fabric of living will be rent by the events of 9/11, but like a magic garment will reweave itself, reviving normalcy in a world where Jewish jokes mingle with debates about the problem of consciousness, the price of real estate, and the meaning of modern art. Along the way, the impermanence and transcendence of life will be embodied in the person of a beloved teacher and coach who, even facing death, radiates a distinctively local light.
Written with Gopniks signature mix of mind and heart, elegant and exultantly alert to the minute miracles that bring a place to life, Through the Childrens Gate is a chronicle, by turns tender and hilarious, of a family taking root in the unlikeliest patch of earth.
About the Author
Adam Gopnik has been writing for the New Yorker since 1986. He is a three-time winner of National Magazine Awards for Essays and for Criticism and winner of the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. Raised in Montreal, Gopnik lived in Paris from 1995 to 2000, and now lives in New York with his wife and their two children.
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