From Alistair Cooke’s establishment tones to the voices of Langston Hughes, Quentin Crisp and Suze Rotolo, Reyes has thoughtfully assembled a wealth of atmospheric literary snippets that evoke the “crush and heave” of New York City. More ambient music than travel guide, this gazette dips into a host of writers whose themes range through the city’s history, jazz and architecture.
Jay Gatsby thrills to “the racy, adventurous feel of it” while Don DeLillo mulls over the World Trade Center. Tom Wolfe and Jan Morris are (justifiably) heavily quoted; Paul Auster, my preferred chronicler of Brooklyn, gets a single look-in. Meanwhile, classy younger writers (Todd McEwen, Gary Shteyngart, Ben Markovits) shine on different facets of the city.
The result is a prismatic, engrossing and skimmable work. By profiling little-known writers beside icons such as Capote and Bellow, the book suggests intriguing tangents for further exploration – both on foot and on the page.
City-Pick New York, edited by Heather Reyes, Oxygen Books, RRP£9.99, 257 pages