When I first read this book over 20 years ago, New York really was a fantasy. Ticket prices were almost twice my monthly salary and I never dreamed of getting there in a million lifetimes. Winter's Tale was the closest I was ever going to get.
Fortunately, this energetic, almost religious work, by a man with an acknowledged interest in every pillar, post, brick and bottle of his city, well it's pretty damn close. He knows New York backwards, forwards and sideways - through time as well as space. And he picks characters out of its ether wherever he chooses and fashions them into diamonds.
It is not a fantasy novel. It's really not that cheap. It is written like a memory which might be a dream, as a mirage of a real city shifting in the mind, receding into a fog, tying itself within itself and emerging, clear, bright and hard, only to recede again. Its people and places are real New Yorkers and real New York, but they won't stay still.
If you are going to New York, read Winters Tale before you get there. If you have just been, read it when you get back. If you are never going, read it instead. It's beautiful.