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Up in the Old Hotel: And Other Stories [Hardcover]

Joseph Mitchell
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug 1992

'The master of a journalistic style long vanished - urbane, lucid, courteous... A masterpiece of observation and storytelling' Ian McEwan

Mitchell is the laureate of old New York. The hidden corners of the city and the people who lived there are his subject. He captured the waterfront rooming-houses , nickel-a-drink saloons, all-night restaurants, the 'visionaries, obsessives, imposters, fanatics, lost souls, the end-is-near street preachers, old Gypsy Kings and old Gypsy Queens, and out-and-out freak-show freaks.' Mitchell's trademark curiosity, respect and graveyard humour fuel these magical essays.

Written between 1943 and 1965, Up in the Old Hotel is the complete collection of Joseph Mitchell 's New Yorker journalism and includes McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, Old Mr Flood, The Bottom of the Harbour and Joe Gould's Secret.

'Joseph Mitchell is buried treasure' Salman Rushdie

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 718 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books (Aug 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679412638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679412632
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.5 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 959,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This is a book about New York as it was a long time ago. Mitchell is interested in the texture of the city. He loves the cops and bums and old Italian restaurants. After a while you really feel engrained in the place yourself" (William Leith Evening Standard)

"Swift, razor-sharp characterisation, narrative suspense and the sparest, yet most penetrating description" (Evening Standard)

"One of the greatest journalists America has produced" (Times Literary Supplement)

"What James Joyce might have written had he gone into journalism" (Newsweek)

"A poet of the waterfront and a writer of surpassing tales that captured the unsung and unconventional life of New York and its denizens" (Independent) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Mitchell bottled and preserved more of the soul of New York than any man before or since; Up in the Old Hotel is required reading for anyone who wants to hear the lost voices of the city' Tim Adams, Observer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant fascinating look at New York City 28 July 1999
By A Customer
Joseph Mitchell writes and I become the wiser. His first story on McSorley's Irish Pub prompted my visit to same last week when I visited NY. The visit made me pick up Mitchell's book and read it all over again. Every story is worthwhile despite subjects that would, at first, seem uninteresting. His profile of Joe Gould was one of the best pieces of non-fiction writing I can recall. If only a dozen guys in the world could write this way about real people.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A multiple re-read 11 May 1999
By A Customer
Unless you have an extraordinarily adept system of tracking the books you've lent to friends (or friends far more diligent than mine) you should strongly consider buying two copies. I lent my hardcover to a friend, and mourn it. I will lend it no more, having made the same mistake with a subsequent softcover. This is a book into which you can escape. It is alternately hiliarious, troubling, deeply sad. You can pick it up and read one piece or go through it cover to cover. Mitchell was a genius. Brilliant non-fiction writers like John McPhee and Tracy Kidder had their way paved for them by Mitchell... wanna see courage in print? Here it is.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Mitchell might've been a genius. This is an incredible book filled with personalities and observations of the human condition that are simply unforgettable. His depictions of people and places are deeply felt, and New York is as alive as it ever was. A true classic. Astoundingly good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Longing for home 28 July 1997
By A Customer
I think that any book that can make you truly long to be back in a place that you miss with all your heart is the mark of a true classic. "Up in the Old Hotel" does just that. Included here are stories of bearded ladies, clammers, eccentrics, American Indians and many of the other people residing in the most wonderful city in the whole country. That of New York City. Their lives are brought out and put into writing by Joeseph Mitchell, formerly a reporter for the New Yorker magazine. He gives these people such dignity and grace, that they almost transcend their oftentimes sparse existence. Every story is a masterpiece. There are about 25 non-fiction accounts, and 6 fiction, but the characters of the non-fiction tales are just that. Characters. The line between fictiona and non blurs due to the incredible detail and persona of these wild and charming residents of the metropolis they call home.
I don't anymore, but I used to live in New York myself. This book was more than enough for me to realize that I have to move back there as soon as I can. I would feel very proud to have the people Joeseph Mitchell displays as my neighbors. I feel like I already know them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Up in the Old Hotel is a collection of humorous stories about everyday people. I would highly reccomend it to anyone. Many of the stories had me laughing out loud. Up in the Old Hotel is a little peek into the past since the stories were written in the 30's to 40's era. The essays include descriptions of people and a few places. The reader is really able to see how these people lived and how they interacted with the world and people around them. I highly commend Josheph Mitchell for writing this funny, enlighting, intuitive book for readers of all ages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous 25 Jan 1998
By A Customer
While strolling in Soho, a friend dragged me by the ear into a small bookshop, bought this book for me and told me I had to read it. This kind of situation seldom works out for the best -- so many people have pressed mediocre books into my hands over the years, and I have slogged through them out of guilt. This volume hooked me from the start -- I very nearly missed by plane back home that day, as I became so deeply engrossed in it. Mitchell somehow managed to hold on to a wide-eyed wonder and appreciation for all things human throughout his long life. To read this book is to understand that below the surface of things -- old abandoned hotels, the oysters on one's plate, the raving lunatic on the street corner -- is a complex, moving, eloquent, fascinating story, available to anyone who would invest the necessary time, effort and love to extract it. Few of us can summon the necessary energy, but Mitchell could. I can't think of anyone who would fail to be interested in these stories, but New Yorkers past and present should, in particular, find this book fascinating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 3 Feb 2008
The Chicago Sun-Times reviews this work thus:-

"A legendary figure.....Mitchell may indeed be the best writer in America....(His) reportage is so vivid, so real, that it comes out like fiction of the highest order."

In my opinion this review is an understatement of the brilliance of this work. I can categorically state that this is the most satisfying, interesting and best written book that I have ever read in 50 years. I doubt if I'll ever be lucky enough to ever come across its near equal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Desert-Island Books 3 Feb 1998
By A Customer
This is one of my all-time favorites - even non-New Yorkers will be engrossed. A loving, lyrical, touching and humorous description of a New York that died long before I was born - but Mitchell makes it come to life. After reading this book, you'll walk around Manhattan with newly keen eyesight - sometimes you may actually feel like you caught a glimpse.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem from Joe
For those who do not know his work I can only strongly recommend that you get your hands on his books. They are treasures, like the man himself.
Published 3 months ago by Drumdoolaghty
4.0 out of 5 stars The mavericks, the marginal, the unusual and the idiosyncratic from...
Each of the articles by Joseph Mitchell contained in this book is wonderful: beautifully written, and chronicling the mavericks, the marginal, the unusual and the idiosyncratic... Read more
Published 7 months ago by nigeyb
4.0 out of 5 stars Up with the Great Writers
Joseph Mitchell wrote for the great 'New Yorker' magazine, for a peroid of over thirty years. This book contains long essays written both pre and post World War Two. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Mr. James G. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars New York Stories
Joe Mitchell had a great job.
He went to his office every day; sometimes he wrote something, sometimes he did some editing, attended a meeting or two. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Tiernan Henry
5.0 out of 5 stars New York through the eyes and ears of a remarkable reporter
Mitchell was a fabled New Yorker correspondent from the early 1930s until his death sixty years later, and his essays evoke New York and the people living on the margins of the... Read more
Published on 3 Feb 2006 by Mike D
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection worthy of reading over and over
Joe Mitchell was a New Yorker Magazine original, and in this collection representing three decades of authorship, you will find him at his very best. Read more
Published on 14 Nov 1997
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