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Before and after: Stories from New York
     

Before and after: Stories from New York

4.0 1
by Thomas Beller
 

True stories about New York before and after September 11—written by the people for whom the city is the stage set for their lives.
Some of the voices to be found in its pages are those of well known writers—Michael Cunningham, Jeannette Winterson, Phillip Lopate, Luc Sante, Megan Daum, Sam Lipsyte, Thomas Beller—and many more are from people who

Overview

True stories about New York before and after September 11—written by the people for whom the city is the stage set for their lives.
Some of the voices to be found in its pages are those of well known writers—Michael Cunningham, Jeannette Winterson, Phillip Lopate, Luc Sante, Megan Daum, Sam Lipsyte, Thomas Beller—and many more are from people who may not even consider themselves writers, but who were tempted by the "Tell Mr. Beller A Story" button on the critically acclaimed website, mrbellersneighborhood.com, where all these pieces originally appeared. Taken together these essays, reportage, and vignettes are a testament to the vitality, diversity, and complexity of New York City at the turn of the century. A version of this book was in production in early September 2001. After September 11th the web site was flooded with pieces by people who wanted to testify to their survival, to bear record of their witness, and to comprehend. Some of the material in the "After" section is as stark and immediate as the photojournalism from that day. And some posses a wisdom and humanity that is an essential part of moving beyond the events of 9/11. This single volume is in effect two books, with two covers, a "before" and an "after," with a separate introduction for each. It is a powerful document of its time, and, with its vivid and insightful writing, it is also news that will stay news, sometime that will remain an engrossing read long after the events described have receded into the past.
"Brief and memorable epitomes of the urban encounter: a transporting collection. "—Kirkus Reviews "The quality of these pieces is consistently high, and they feel authentic throughout."— Publishers Weekly "Before and After: Stories From New York vividly captures the fissure of a place suddenly and utterly transformed... It's hard to imagine a more appropriate or more moving collection of voices."—San Francisco Chronicle "The essays are gorgeous, alternately sad and funny...[a] richly human collection."—Portland Mercury "Its 60+ stories are all tightly wound and cleanly written... they're emotionally engaging, they're clear, they're direct... It's a heartbreaker of a book."—Flakmag.com

Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
It's hard to imagine a more appropriate or more moving collection of voices.
Portland Mercury
The essays are gorgeous, alternately sad and funny...(a richly human collection.)
Flakmag.com
It's a heartbreaker of a book.
Publishers Weekly
Michael Cunningham, Luc Sante and Jeanette Winterson take their place alongside newcomers Ariele Fierman and Said Shirazi in this collection of new reportage from high-watt literary types and up-and-comers. In the first half, completed just before September 11, Beller (The Sleep-Over Artist) gathers pieces that chronicle everything from kissing a cabdriver in the early hours of New Year's Day or joining a Monday night pool league to a group of poems written by people staying up all night for Chekhov tickets. The feel is definitively late '90s, and the city seems full of promise, romance and cash. The second half is devoted to essays about the attacks: a meditation on the eerie prescience of Don DeLillo's Underworld book jacket (and his oeuvre), Phillip Lopate's brief history of the towers and many first-person testimonials. Nifty graphics introduce each piece by zeroing in on the city neighborhood whence the report issues. While this is at least partly an instant book, the quality of the pieces is consistently high, and they feel authentic throughout. (Feb. 15) Forecast: Beller's high literary journalistic profile he edits Open City in addition to frequent writing for glossies and continued New York interest should convert to brisk sales. Look for Beller to begin doing talk shows as the book becomes the best-available-option for those wanting book-length stylized New York reportage, and for correspondingly increased traffic at www.mrbellersneighborhood.com, where many of the pieces originally appeared. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sixty vignettes of life in New York City both before and after the Twin Towers went south with its heart-breaking charge Most of this material first saw the light of day on mrbellersneighborhood.com, fiction-writer Beller's Web site whose stated aim is "to provide a venue for pieces with no pitch, no angle. This site makes the neighborhood, and the individual, the angle." The pieces that fit with this premise are well considered and fresh-but fresh like the fruit at a high-end market. The experiences they chronicle are well lived, though young. It's evident in the pre-9/11 work that the writers knew they were onto something good, fleeting, and worth the telling. The mood here is, of course, more whimsical and no less genuine for it: there are stories of a choice barber and the sensual semiotics of socks, of a park riot, a New Year's Eve kiss with a cab driver, and of a guy who doesn't really know how to fix a building's furnace. A few are precious ("There was a time, not long ago, when turtles enjoyed a brief vogue in New York City"), but by and large each story behaves like a crab apple: Bite into it and it bites you back. These experiences and their tellers seem old beyond their years, and many pack a hurtful punch. All of the post-9/11 works hurt, yet in their newness, and despite their subject, they don't quite leave the lasting imagery that the earlier material does. (Maybe it's just more sustaining to reflect upon memories of Tom's Restaurant than to dwell on Don DeLillo as a guide to the near future.) The writing is raw, and the best comes from longtime residents like Philip Lopate, who remembers of the WTC, "the more you looked at it, the less it gave you back." Brief andmemorable epitomes of the urban encounter: a transporting collection.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393323535
Publisher:
Mister Beller's Neighborhood
Publication date:
02/04/2002
Series:
Mr. Beller's Neighborhood
Pages:
1
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Beller is the author of Seduction Theory, The Sleep-Over Artist and How to Be a Man. He is a founder and editor of Open City magazine and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.com. He lives in New York City and New Orleans.

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Before and after: Stories from New York 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book of stories written by many different people who live and work in New York City. The stories are drawn from editor Tom Beller's literary website about New York, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood. This excellent website offers everyone, both New Yorkers and others from around the country and the world, a place to tell their stories and views of life in New York. The stories are written by both professional writers and amateurs. The quality often varies from story to story, but overall it is very good. The book is divided into two parts, part one has stories written before 9/11. The stories in this section vary greatly as to their subjects, reflecting the diverse life experiences of the people of New York. The second part is made up of stories that take place on 9/11 and after. The stories reflect people who have been terribly hurt, who have witnessed horror after horror, who are trying to cope and understand what has happened to them and their city. But these people are still proud to be New Yorkers, they have been badly hurt by the events of 9/11, but their sprit has not been crushed. This is a small book, but the stories in it are great indeed.