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The Colossus of New Yorkby Colson Whitehead
"[Whitehead's] thirteen sections...are meant to be evocative, not argumentative. Formally, the pieces are not essays at all. They are prose poems, at times reminiscent in style of Rimbaud's Illuminations. Whitehead frequently abandons conventions of English grammar, focusing instead on the creation of mood and the insinuation of tone. His method is impressionistic, imagistic, for Whitehead is not presenting the city as it stands, but as it sits within him." Wyatt Mason, the New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
In a dazzlingly original work of nonfiction, the award-winning novelist Colson Whitehead re-creates the exuberance, the chaos, the promise, and the heartbreak of New York. Here is a literary love song that will entrance anyone who has lived in—or spent time—in the greatest of American cities.
A masterful evocation of the city that never sleeps, The Colossus of New York captures the citys inner and outer landscapes in a series of vignettes, meditations, and personal memories. Colson Whitehead conveys with almost uncanny immediacy the feelings and thoughts of longtime residents and of newcomers who dream of making it their home; of those who have conquered its challenges; and of those who struggle against its cruelties.
Whiteheads style is as multilayered and multifarious as New York itself: Switching from third person, to first person, to second person, he weaves individual voices into a jazzy musical composition that perfectly reflects the way we experience the city. There is a funny, knowing riff on what it feels like to arrive in New York for the first time; a lyrical meditation on how the city is transformed by an unexpected rain shower; and a wry look at the ferocious battle that is commuting. The plaintive notes of the lonely and dispossessed resound in one passage, while another captures those magical moments when the city seems to be talking directly to you, inviting you to become one with its rhythms.
The Colossus of New York is a remarkable portrait of life in the big city. Ambitious in scope, gemlike in its details, it is at once an unparalleled tribute to New York and the ideal introduction to one of the most exciting writers working today.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Whitehead makes it both difficult and easy for readers in this astonishingly evocative view of Gotham. The difficulties all arise from his poetic language....[But] reading him is as natural (and as uncomfortable) as looking in a full-length mirror." Kirkus Reviews
"This 13-part lyric symphony is like E.B. White's Here is New York set to the beat of Ellington or Cage." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Colson Whitehead was born and raised in New York City. He is the author of The Intuitionist and John Henry Days, and is a recipient of a Whiting Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. He lives in Brooklyn.
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