Gone to New York Adventures in the City

Ian Frazier; Foreword by Jamaica Kincaid




Trade Paperback

224 Pages



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Welcome to Ian Frazier's New York, a city more downtown than up, where every block is an event, and where the denizens are larger than life. Meet landlord extraordinaire Zvi Hugo Segal, and the man who climbed the World Trade Center, and an eighty-three-year-old typewriter repairman whose shop on Fulton Street has drawers full of umlauts. Learn the location of Manhattan's antipodes, and meander the length of Route 3 to New Jersey.

Like his literary forbears Joseph Mitchell and A.J. Liebling, Frazier, in his inimitable voice, makes us fall in love with America's greatest city all over again, the way he did, arriving as a young man from Hudson, Ohio. In evocations of the F train, Canal Street, and Prospect Park, Brooklyn, and in his "Bags in Trees" essay, Frazier gives us New York again, in all its vital and human multiplicity.


Praise for Gone to New York

"These essays are classics of [the] genre . . . Throughout Frazier writes with such charm, such self-deprecating introspection, we wish that we . . . could claim him as a friend."—The Boston Globe
"One of the best writers in America. Absorbed by people and their stories, endlessly curious, graced with an exquisite ear for the way people speak, addicted to dry humor, and unpretentious, he has become a master craftsman in the odd and lovely art of collecting and telling stories of American life."—The Oregonian
"[A] pleasing, humorous, but also keenly trenchant collection . . . freely mix[es] the ugly with the sublime, and the scary with the fascinating and the funny . . . It's also a lovely read."—The Christian Science Monitor
"A delight to follow on the page . . . And don't let the emphasis on New York City fool you. Frazier is one of us."—Chicago Sun-Times
"This is New York on a human level. Frazier obviously likes people; his empathy comes through."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Generous slices of New York wry, from humorist/essayist Frazier. Though currently a New Jersey suburbanite, Frazier resided for years in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. In these 22 pieces from the Atlantic Monthly, Double Take, Mother Jones, Outside and The New Yorker, the native of Hudson, Ohio, celebrates Gotham as only a wide-eyed transplant could. The essays begin in 1975—when the city teetered toward bankruptcy—and end in 2005, when, post-9/11, Frazier wished that city residents would 'remain our hopeful, foolish selves while caught up, now inextricably, in the wider world.' Like predecessors A.J. Liebling and Joseph Mitchell, he chronicles the manically funny. More often, he rejoices in the infinite idiosyncrasies encouraged by the city. Three essays describe his hobby of snagging bags out of trees—a penchant so pronounced that his wife grew skeptical when he began bringing some bags home. In marvelous detail, he profiles George Wittig, who climbed the World Trade Center in 1977, as well as an octogenarian master of the lost art of manual-typewriter repair. Frazier even strings together graffiti in a reading room at Columbia University's Butler Library into a hilarious casual essay. He is equally at home delivering a Whitmanesque hosanna to Brooklyn, a dissection of the groups riding the F Train and a chronicle of Canal Street, jammed with as much sound, character, incident and history as the colorful neighborhood itself. A vivid collection of essays expertly blending reporting, history, humor and one man's abiding affection for a city's quirks."— Kirkus Reviews
"The Bronx is up, the Battery's down, and New Yorker contributor Frazier is more likely to profile the funky little spots (and people) in between as he tours this grand city."—Library Journal
"Frazier chronicles his relationship with New York City in this collection of essays from The New Yorker, the Atlantic and elsewhere. Kincaid's foreword celebrates her friend's identification with Ohio, but despite the formative importance of his hometown and state, Frazier clearly develops a particular, fond attachment to all the places he comes to know. His essays pile up sensory detail, personalities, stories and history, creating a patina of personal meaning. Whether it's Canal Street in a grittier time, the bus route he takes to his current home in New Jersey or the roundabout way he made it to New York in the first place, Frazier creates a sense of place and of the way people interact with it: a memorial grows up and disintegrates at the site of a fatal shooting; a repairman embodies the history of typewriters; he himself becomes obsessed with removing bags stuck in trees . . . Frazier's evocation of the city over three decades is thoughtful, entertaining and occasionally moving, and his own journey from the Midwest to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and eventually New Jersey will resonate for many readers."—Publishers Weekly

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Gone to New York
ANTIPODESIf you drilled a hole straight through the earth, starting at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Forty-second Street, you would pass through ten inches of pavement, four feet of pipes, thirty-five feet of Seventh Avenue subway, about twenty-two hundred miles of rock, about thirty-six hundred miles of nickel-iron core, and then another twenty-two hundred miles of rock. You would come out in the Indian Ocean, 106°3' east longitude and 40°45' south latitude, about three hundred miles off the southwest coast of Australia. You would have reached Manhattan's antipodes,
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  • Ian Frazier; Foreword by Jamaica Kincaid

  • Ian Frazier is the author of Great Plains, The Fish's Eye, On the Rez, Family, as well as Coyote v. Acme and Dating Your Mom. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
  • Ian Frazier Sigrid Estrada
    Ian Frazier
  • Jamaica Kincaid Copyright Kenneth Noland