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Up in the Old Hotel: and Other Storiesby Joseph Mitchell
Joseph Mitchell wrote these stories and more for the New Yorker. Technically, they are nonfiction pieces Mitchell's books are shelved mostly in literature and journalism. But his prose reads like some of the finest fiction the magazine's published. You won't make it to the best Christmas-time destination (Old New York no longer exists), so read all about it in Up in the Old Hotel.
Synopses & Reviews
Mitchell explored a New York City that has now vanished in his four books and his classic reportage for The New Yorker. Mitchell's eccentrics live again in this omnibus volume that contains all of his books and several previously uncollected stories.
"Mitchell's darkly comic articles are models of big-city journalism. . . . His accounts are like what Joyce might have written had he gone into journalism." Newsweek
"A legendary figure. . . . Mitchell's reportage is so vivid, so real, that it comes out like fiction of the highest order." Chicago Sun-Times
In this omnibus collecting decades of his work, Mitchell offers compassionate, wistful examinations of early-20th-century New Yorkers who existed on the margins of society.
Saloon-keepers and street preachers, gypsies and steel-walking Mohawks, a bearded lady and a 93-year-old “seafoodetarian” who believes his specialized diet will keep him alive for another two decades. These are among the people that Joseph Mitchell immortalized in his reportage for The New Yorker and in four books—McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, Old Mr. Flood, The Bottom of the Harbor, and Joe Gould's Secret—that are still renowned for their precise, respectful observation, their graveyard humor, and their offhand perfection of style.
These masterpieces (along with several previously uncollected stories) are available in one volume, which presents an indelible collective portrait of an unsuspected New York and its odder citizens—as depicted by one of the great writers of this or any other time.
About the Author
Joseph Mitchell came to New York City on October 25, 1929 (the day after the stock-market crash), from a small farming town called Fairmont, in the swamp country of southeastern North Carolina. He was twenty-one years old and looking for a job as a newspaper reporter. He eventually managed to find work as an apprentice crime reporter at Police Headquarters for the World. He was a reporter and feature writer — for the World, the Herald Tribune, and the World-Telegram — for eight years, and then went to the New Yorker, where he remained until his death, on May 24, 1996, at the age of eighty-seven.
Aside from writing, Mr. Mitchell's interests included the waterfront of New York City, commercial fishing, gypsies, Southern agriculture, Irish literature, and the architecture of New York City. He served several terms on the board of directors of the Gypsy Lore Society, an international organization of students of gypsy life and the gypsy language, which was founded in England in 1888. Bajour, a musical comedy based on stories about gypsies by Mitchell, ran for 232 performances on Broadway in 1964-65. He was one of the founders of the South Street Seaport Museum and one of the original members of the Friends of Cast-Iron Architecture. For five years he was also one of the Commissioners of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Mr. Mitchell was married to the photographer Therese Mitchell, who died in 1980; they had two daughters, Nora Sanborn and Elizabeth Mitchell.
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