Synopses & Reviews
Described as 'a continuous carnival' and 'the crossroads of the world,' Times Square is a singular phenomenon: the spot where imagination and veracity intersect. To Marshall Berman, it is also the flashing, teeming, and strangely beautiful nexus of his life. In this remarkable book, Berman takes us on a thrilling illustrated tour of Times Square, revealing a landscape both mythic and real. Interleafing his own recollections with social commentary, he reveals how movies, graphic arts, literature, popular music, television, and, of course, the Broadway theater have reflected Times Square’s voluminous light to illuminate a vast spectrum of themes and vignettes. Part love letter, part revelatory semiotic exposition of a place known to all, On the Town is a nonstop excursion to the heart of American civilization, written by one of our keenest, most entertaining cultural observers.
"Berman’s latest—and perhaps best—book chronicles the storied incandescence of Times Square... Brilliant indeed." Booklist, Starred Review
"Like the square itself, the choreographer of this neon Leaves of Grass is a hybrid of styles and genres, of page, stage, screen, and jazz. He is up in the air, like Ruby Keeler on top of a taxi. He is dancing in the street, with Martha and the Vandellas. A Pied Piper, Johnny Appleseed, and Sergeant Pepper, he leads us into movie houses, libraries, juke joints, temptation, and transcendence … the fact is, I can no longer see Times Square on my own. I am looking at some splendid magical-realist Macondo from inside the head of a man with kaleidoscope eyes." John Leonard
The glittering spectacle of Times Square has been the object of the world"s fascination since the turn of the century. Now available in a handsome new paperback edition, noted critic Marshall Berman"s On the Towncaptures the incandescence of the 'crossroads of the world.' By interweaving a century of songs, film, and literature, Berman conjures the vibrant personalities that shaped, and were shaped by, Times Square'"from Busby Berkeley and Martin Scorsese, to George Gershwin and Bob Dylan. Berman also reveals little-known characters on the fringes of history'"hustlers, artists, and eccentrics'"who helped to make the iconic site what it is today.
A pulsating history of Times Square and its iconic role in America's society of the spectacle.
About the Author
Marshall Berman is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at City College of New York and CCNY Graduate Center, where he teaches political theory and urban studies. He writes frequently for The Nation and The Village Voice, and serves on the editorial board of Dissent. He is the author of The Politics of Authenticity; All That Is Solid Melts into Air; and On the Town.