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My First New York: Early Adventures in the Big City Paperback – 20 Aug 2012
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“These small, glittering essays make a reader feel that the sheer force of all these dreams, this persistence, might in fact rub off on you.” (Los Angeles Times)
“No matter how rich and famous they become, newcomers generally suffer through the most absurd living conditions as a rite of passage to becoming New Yorkers. It’s proven by the boldfaced contributors to My First New York.” (New York Post)
“A breezy celebration of the city. . . . 50 famous residents describe their first days in the city—days variously exhilarating, overwhelming, terrifying, or inspiring, but invariably unforgettable.” (Booklist)
“As wacky and wonderful as NYC itself.” (Modern Tonic)
“At time hilarious and heartbreaking, all these stories are inspiring—just like life in NYC.” (Star)
“Celebrate[s] all the quirkiness, beauty, creativity, eccentricity, and artistry that is New York City.” (Pop Matters)
From the Back Cover
From some of the most remarkable people who have called the city home, come fifty-six candid accounts of long nights out and wild nights in, of first dates and lost loves, of memorable meals and miserable jobs, of slow walks up Broadway and fast subway rides downtown. From a mix of actors, artists, comedians, entrepreneurs, politicians, sports stars, writers, and more, these moving and memorable stories combine to form an impressionistic history of New York since the Great Depression, an accidental encyclopedia of New York hotspots through the ages, and a testament to a larger revelation, one that new arrivals of all stripes and eras have experienced again and again: what the songwriter Rufus Wainwright calls "having cracked the code of living life to the fullest."See all Product description
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In 2010, New York magazine published a feature story in which thirty prominent New Yorkers shared their first New York experience. My First New York: Early Adventures in the Big City is an extended version of that magazine feature. The book is a collection of short stories from various people--from actors, artists, authors, politicians, and even porn stars. In the book, they recollect their “first times,” some happier than others, but all are representations of the city from an individual’s perspective in a specific time in history.
The book is chronologically arranged featuring N.Y.C. newcomers who arrived in 1933 to 2009. The book starts with David Dinkins who was the city’s former mayor, ends with actress Jenny Joslin, and includes stories from James Franco, Nora Ephron, Danny DeVito, Naomi Campbell, Amy Sedaris, and Maggie Gyllenhaal among others.
I like how the various authors’ stories represent the diversity of the city and the assortment of personalities who call it home. The stories vary from funny to inspiring to sad. Some of the authors had an easy time settling in while others, not so much.
Lorne Michaels had a job waiting for him in New York City when he moved from California while Jenny Joslin spent half her time auditioning for acting jobs and the other half applying for server positions. Michaels instantly got invited for drinks and dinner. He became friends with hotshot television writers like Anne Beatts and Herb Sargent, while Joslin had her first New York mental breakdown within the first week.
I find it interesting that some of these people, who are now famous in their own fields, started out like you and me. They all experienced anxiety and uncertainty. They also had roommate problems, experienced identity crisis, felt left out, and homesick. And I like how this book made them relatable to us. Hey, they’re humans too!
My First New York gets four stars from me. The editors of New York magazine did a wonderful job carefully curating stories that genuinely epitomize New York City. The book’s chronological format made the book clear. The presentation of history through the authors’ recollections made me see New York City in a different light. It made me connect more to the buildings and streets knowing there is a story behind all of them. However, the book would have been better if the introduction and conclusion was longer. I would have loved to read more of what the editors have to say about New York City.
Overall, the book was a great read. It made me love N.Y.C. a lot more. From the buildings, to the people, to the interactions that happen every single day, whether insignificant or extraordinary, New York City is a place I would love to spend every hour of the day in. It does not matter if I’m thriving or unemployed, “becoming a New Yorker is victory in itself.”
If you like this book or love the city of New York, you might also like New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009 by Teresa Carpenter and The Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead.
In this book over 50 New Yorkers tell their stories of early days in Big Apple. The stories are all different, some funny, some sad, all of them exciting and memorable. They tell the story of one of the greatest cities in the world.
If you love New York, and most of us do, this book is for you. And here's a perfect quote to sum up the book: what makes one a real New Yorker is the conscious decision to become one.