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Everyone is Watching Hardcover – 16 Jun 2016
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I loved Megan Bradbury’s debut novel, Everyone Is Watching, a book ostensibly about a century or so of life in New York, but really about how cities themselves are works of communal action and art, and about how, even in the most draconian and reactionary of times, the vibrancy of these two things will light, reveal, challenge and reshape the fabrics of where and how we live. It’s a beating heart of a novel (Ali Smith Guardian)
A highly original and elegantly written debut . . . a genuine attempt to evolve the form of the novel while trying to find a new way to tell a person's story . . . one has to applaud the great ambition of this book . . . There's a hypnotic effect to the prose and a sense that the author both understands and loves this most complicated of cities . . . a fascinating gift . . . [Megan Bradbury] is an extraordinary talent. (John Boyne The Irish Times)
A kaleidoscopic dreamscape of New York seen through the eyes of some of its most celebrated inhabitants . . . immersive and compelling . . . hypnotic . . . dirty, dangerous and delicious, this is a novel that understands the cost of contact and bets on it anyway (Olivia Laing New Statesman)
I have been haunted by Megan Bradbury's debut, Everyone Is Watching, ever since I read an early copy months ago. Through the lives of four historical New Yorkers, it dramatises more powerfully than any other novel I know the interdependence of artistic making and urban life (Garth Greenwell Guardian)
It's one of the best debuts I've read in years (Eimear McBride Times Literary Supplement)
The insouciant audacity of Megan Bradbury’s Everyone Is Watching took me by surprise. It has darknesses but its spirit of joy and the sheer sense of purpose of the famous characters lifted me in this bleak year (James Meek Guardian)
I loved it . . . Bradbury's writing is beautiful: unusual, intoxicating and bold . . . I finished Everyone Is Watching on a high (Guardian)
New York City as a creative catalyst is an enticing subject matter and one that receives a delightfully unexpected treatment in Bradbury's elegant debut (GQ)
A short book with a big bold sweep. It pulses with the life of the great city and rattles along with its energy. (John Harding Daily Mail)
In a narrative about art, creativity and vision, she shows the flair of an artist, capturing snapshots, vignettes of the characters who inhabited New York through the culturally, socially and sexually transformative period from the 1890s through to the present day . . . Megan Bradbury's idiosyncrasy and chutzpah are a fitting epitaph to a city that, as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, has the 'wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world' (Herald)
A mesmerising read, Everyone is Watching throws you into the heart of New York (Stylist)
By interleaving a series of parallel New York narratives spanning 120 years, she makes that great metropolis seem intimate, its inhabitants connected across the decades by shared desires (Daily Telegraph)
Fascinating novella, almost a work of philosophy . . . Bradbury makes connections between people and places, and across time, that are edifying and moving (Herald Scotland)
Bradbury's idiosyncrasy and chutzpah are a fitting epitaph to a city that , as F Scott Fitzgerald put it, had the "wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world" (Press Association)
I like boldness in a writer, and you don't get much bolder than writing a meditative, intertwining narrative of four New Yorkers . . . (National)
An impressively original debut . . . Everyone is Watching manages to be both intimate and epic at the same time - quite an achievement (The Bookseller)
Vivid, full of deadpan humour and very, very unusual (Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is Missing )
This beautiful, kaleidoscopic imagining of the artists' creation of New York means everyone should be watching Megan Bradbury from now on (Eimear McBride, Baileys Prize-winning author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing)
Megan Bradbury's daring, urgent novel is a thrilling act of psychic and historical excavation, a profound examination of the relationship between urban spaces and the making of art. A moving portrait of lives linked across time, Everyone is Watching is an important addition to the literature of New York. (Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You)
Megan Bradbury writes with the elegance of a Tiffany's diamond and the intensity of Times Square at rush hour. Through the eyes of Robert Mapplethorpe, Walt Whitman, Robert Moses and Edmund White, we experience the passion, heartbreak and soaring ambition that defines New York City. (Patricia Morrisroe, author Mapplethorpe: A Biography)
This is a wonderful book, unique and surprising, alive to the energy and mystery of New York, written in language that swings between spare poetry and raw, gnarly sex. (Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine)
A wonderful read . . . Everyone is Watching reaches beyond itself in such fascinating ways . . . I was left with a much richer sense of New York as a city, and a much deeper sense of the creative life of cities (and people!) in general. So, a very satisfying, thought provoking read indeed. (Al Robertson, author of Crashing Heaven)
Sentence by sentence, scene by scene, Everyone is Watching is as beautifully constructed as the city it celebrates. Here is New York through the eyes of its artists, in a novel as striking and memorable and brave as the art it describes. (Andrew Cowan, author of Worthless Men )
An astonishing debut novel from a true original, whose talent pours out of these pages. A magical interweaving of New York stories from the perspectives of the architects and artists who made Manhattan in their image and whose loves, schemes, ambitions and dreams all connect through time, pyschogeography and Megan Bradbury's luminous prose. (Cathi Unsworth, author of Without the Moon )
Everyone is Watching is an astonishing debut. Megan Bradbury has written a subtle and powerful novel of New York, its architects, artists and - her greatest achievement - the consciousness of the city itself. (Jean McNeil, author of The Ice Lovers )
Illuminating . . . It sends you back to its sources while demanding that you read on. (David Flusfleder, author of The Gift )
A first novel by a talented young writer . . . written with imagination, great assurance and a painterly eye, it builds up a fine portrait of the city (Scotsman)
Bradbury has this astonishing ability to capture a lifetime in a line and to evoke the tangibility of longing in the human heart. Everyone is Watching in an exquisite orchestra of lyrical narrative that deserves a book-prize recognition (Attitude)
Megan Bradbury's epic feels like a love letter to the city . . . an intimate, elegant and sweeping novel of such depth and richness, you'll feel energised and rejuvenated by the power the individual has on the personality of a city (Reader's Digest)
Speculative and daring, by turns brash, brutal, tender and elegiac, Everyone is Watching is a love song - one that is as protean, multifaceted, elusive and captivating as the city that is at its heart. Written in a direct, spare prose, it is ambitious and brave, a virtuoso performance. (Evening News)
Everyone is Watching offers a fascinating glimpse into a creative world (BBC Arts Online)
A beautiful and beguiling novel of New York told through the lives of some of those who have defined the city: Robert Moses, Edmund White, Walt Whitman and Robert Mapplethorpe.See all Product description
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The narrative interweaves stories from the lives of famous New Yorkers Robert Mapplethorpe, Walt Whitman, Edmund White, and Robert Moses. Bradbury knits the fabric of New York through them in short, perfect sentences.
Future classic. Read it.
This is a very unusually constructed book, a classic of short story pieces. The oftentimes brief chapters chart the lives of selected New Yorkers from the late 19th Century onwards, short, sharp, sexualised at times, how their lives built and broke the foundations of this sparkling and brooding city.
Robert Mapplethorpe, photographer of people, sharp shooter of bodily forms, a quintessential master of creative in the later 20th century is the style icon to whom the author returns time and again.
A colourful character set in what is an array of stark shots, visualised almost in acute black and white, just like the photos that feature between many of the short chapters. “..a photograph is a window into someone else’s life”. This eclectic collection of stories and observations is much like a photo burst, capturing a time and holding it in a frame for the reader to peruse, from the present looking to the past.
Patti Smith and Walt Whitman are well profiled, and Robert Moses who shaped much of the skyline in the city was a larger than life man behind some of the great changes ever seen. It is due to his vision – and sadly his ruthlessness with many of the underclass – that we can bathe in the wonder of the city that is larger than life. He was the driver behind the1964/5 World’s Fair, yet it closed on a very sour note, and he was the dominant force in the creation of Stuyvesant Town on the East side of Manhattan.
A trip back in time takes the reader to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, and explores the lives lived by the Kumpertz family – the soot and squalor are detailed, and measures were imposed so that germs from the lowly classes on one side of town would not infect the richer echelons on the other side.
Overall this is a novel of stories that challenges the reader in its construct, it veers between being insightful and gripping, and mundane – the polar opposites mirror the life in a city. A book that flits around the city and is perfect for the channel hopping generation. At times I truly wondered where the meandering narrative was going, I tired of it on occasion and yet…. it has really stuck with me and I have this feeling that this will over time become a kind of classic. It is certainly a book that I would recommend to most visitors – but not all because of the scenes of a sexual nature – heading to the city. Echoes of footsteps past will greatly enhance a visitor’s understanding of what it means to explore the different neighbourhoods. Everyone is Watching is a very much a novel about the people who have defined New York to this point in time.
Over on our blog you can find a fab chat we had with the author.
I shall remember this book only for the reason that it was not what I thought it was going to be. A post graduate dissertation has about the same amount of research.
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