Synopses & Reviews
Whether Lee Stringer is describing "God's corner" as he calls 42nd Street, or his friend Suzy, a hooker and "past due tourist" whose infant child he sometimes babysits, whether he is recounting his experiences at Street News, where he began hawking the newspaper for a living wage, then wrote articles, and served for a time as muckraking senior editor, whether it is his adventures in New York's infamous Tombs jail, or performing community service, or sleeping in the tunnels below Grand Central Station by night and collecting cans by day, this is a book rich with small acts of kindness, humor and even heroism alongside the expected violence and desperation of life on the street. There is always room, Stringer writes, "amid the costume" jewel glitter...for one more diamond in the rough."
Two events rise over Grand Central Winter like sentinels: Stringer's discovery of crack cocaine and his catching the writing bug. Between these two very different yet oddly similar activities, Lee's life unwound itself, during the 1980s, and took the shape of an odyssey, an epic struggle to find meaning and happiness in arid times. He eventually beat the first addiction with help from a treatment program. The second addiction, writing, has hold of him still.
Among the many accomplishments of this book is that Stringer is able to convey something of the vitality and complexity of a down—and—out life. The reader walks away from it humming its melody, one that is more wise than despairing, less about the shame we feel when confronted with a picture of those less fortunate, and more about the joy we feel when we experience our shared humanity.
A New York Times Notable Book
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“Stringer gives us the long view of New York’s underbelly, born of pain but delivered with style and heart.”—John Jiller, The New York Times Book Review
“Stringer’s crisp detail, straight no-chaser wit, and uncompromising frankness are as bracing as his subject is significant.”—Booklist
In the underground tunnels below Grand Central Terminal, Lee Stringer—homeless and drug-addicted over the course of eleven years—found a pencil to run through his crack pipe. One day, he used it to write. Soon, writing became a habit that won over drugs. And before long, Stringer had created one of the most powerful urban memoirs of our time.
With humane wisdom and a biting wit, Lee Stringer chronicles the unraveling of his seemingly secure existence running a graphic design company and his odyssey of survival on the streets of New York City. Whether he recounts taking shelter underneath Grand Central by night and collecting cans by day or making a living hawking Street News on the subway, Stringer conveys the vitality and complexity of a down-and-out life. Rich with small acts of kindness, humor, and even heroism amid violence and desperation, Grand Central Winter offers a touching portrait of our shared humanity.
This paperback edition now features four new chapters chronicling events since the original publication of Grand Central Winter in 1998.
One of the most powerful urban memoirs of our time
About the Author
LEE STRINGER's journey from childhood homelessness in the ’60s, to adult homelessness in the ’80s, to his present career as a writer and lecturer, as told in Sleepaway School and Grand Central Winter, is one of the great odysseys of contemporary American life and letters. Stringer, the only board member of Project Renewal who is also a former patient of the facility, has demonstrated that writers are made, not born. He is the two-time recipient of the Washington Irving Award and, in 2005, a Lannan Foundation Residency. He is a former editor and columnist of Street News. His essays and articles have appeared in a variety of other publications, including The Nation, The New York Times, and Newsday. He lives in Mamaroneck, New York, where he also serves on the board of the Mamaroneck Public Libraries.