Ghost Town: Tales of Manhattan Then and Now

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"In this fictional contribution to the Writer and the City series, Patrick McGrath excavates the layers of New York's turbulent past and present. The result is a trio of tales, beginning with "The Year of the Gibbet," which tells the haunting story of a young boy during the American Revolution whose mother is hanged for defying the British army. Fifty years later, amid a deadly cholera outbreak, he harbors a festering guilt for his inadvertent part in her downfall. In "Julius," a ruthless nineteenth-century merchant punishes his son's passion for ...
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New York U. S. A. 2005 Hardcover First Edition New in New dust jacket 978-1582-34312-9. Marfree, acidfree Fine 1stEd, b&w photographic dj (NY harbor); no names, not marked-in, ... underscored, clearance or discard. Mails from NYC usually within 12 hours.; 0.9 x 7.1 x 4.7 Inches; 243 pages; From Publishers WeeklyBeneath Manhattan's ever-changing skyline, familial betrayal and guilt remain hauntingly constant in these three juicy novellas, the latest in Bloomsbury's Writer in the City series. In "The Year of the Gibbet, " set in the burned-out, British-occupied city of 1777, a boy inadvertently exposes his mother as a spy for General Washington; after she is hanged, her ghost returns to torment him. "Julius" moves ahead to the Civil War era to tell the Jamesian saga of a weak-minded art student who goes insane when his wealthy businessman father breaks up his love affair with a lowborn artists' model. "Ground Zero" is the tale of a man who begins a relationship with a prostitute who keeps seeing the specter of he Read more Show Less

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Overview

"In this fictional contribution to the Writer and the City series, Patrick McGrath excavates the layers of New York's turbulent past and present. The result is a trio of tales, beginning with "The Year of the Gibbet," which tells the haunting story of a young boy during the American Revolution whose mother is hanged for defying the British army. Fifty years later, amid a deadly cholera outbreak, he harbors a festering guilt for his inadvertent part in her downfall. In "Julius," a ruthless nineteenth-century merchant punishes his son's passion for the arts by denying him the girl he loves, driving the boy to insanity. Finally, in "Ground Zero," a Manhattan psychiatrist tries to treat a favored patient reeling from the destruction of the World Trade Center. But she fails to detect the damage she herself has sustained, and suffers the consequences of her blindness." A selection of tales wracked with erotic obsession, madness, and class warfare, and ranging in style from the gothic to the coolly analytical, Ghost Town is a paean to a city that has always inspired and captivated the world.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review - Katherine Dunn
"The sensuous world that McGrath creates is intense in its beauty…mesmerizing."
Tobias Wolff
"[McGrath writes] fiction of a depth and power we hardly hope to encounter anymore."
San Francisco Chronicle
"An uncommon storyteller…McGrath demonstrates his trademark ability to probe the layers of the human psyche."
Newsday
"McGrath's a shrewd performer. You're fascinated; you're enthralled…it's a pleasure to be mesmerized."
Publishers Weekly
Beneath Manhattan's ever-changing skyline, familial betrayal and guilt remain hauntingly constant in these three juicy novellas, the latest in Bloomsbury's Writer in the City series. In "The Year of the Gibbet," set in the burned-out, British-occupied city of 1777, a boy inadvertently exposes his mother as a spy for General Washington; after she is hanged, her ghost returns to torment him. "Julius" moves ahead to the Civil War era to tell the Jamesian saga of a weak-minded art student who goes insane when his wealthy businessman father breaks up his love affair with a lowborn artists' model. "Ground Zero" is the tale of a man who begins a relationship with a prostitute who keeps seeing the specter of her lover, a man killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. It's told from the viewpoint of the man's jealous psychiatrist, who gradually allows her voice of psychoanalytic detachment to take on a vengeful tone of post-9/11 paranoia. McGrath (Asylum, etc.) sets these stories against the burgeoning city and its stew of sublime aspiration, corrupt failure, and sexual and class antagonisms. He writes in a range of registers, but complicates each with a subtle, empathetic humanism. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
McGrath, well known for his psychologically harrowing neo-Gothic novels (e.g., Asylum), offers the latest addition to "The Writer in the City" series, which invites celebrated authors to wax ecstatic about a great world city (see Peter Carey's 30 Days in Sydney). This first fictional work in the series is made up of three powerful stories exploring McGrath's signature themes of obsession, madness, and transgression. Each major character is haunted by the ghost of a lost loved one, and events unravel in a way that illuminates a pivotal moment in New York City's history-the British occupation during the Revolutionary War, the boom years before the Civil War, and the aftermath of 9/11. This dark, ambitious portrait of a complex and storied city is recommended for all libraries.-Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A vision of New York as a battleground, both literal and figurative, links three spirited stories from a master of sophisticated melodrama (Port Mungo, 2004, etc.). "The Year of the Gibbet" is told from the perspective of a tormented man named Edmund. Writing his memoir in 1832, shortly before succumbing to cholera, he looks back to 1776, when the British fleet occupied New York harbor, Manhattan was under martial law and Washington's demoralized army was encamped in New Jersey. Edmund's account pays tribute to his gallant, fearless mother, a working-class revolutionary who traveled as a courier between Washington's army and a sea captain plotting against the Brits, taking little Edmund with her. The boy's confusion under interrogation led to his mother's arrest, court martial and death by hanging; Edmund, haunted by his mother's ghost, never forgives himself. McGrath paints with a broad brush here, but with sufficient intensity to keep readers turning the pages. The same is true of "Ground Zero," his over-the-top but compelling final story. Here the battleground is a psychiatrist's office. The therapist/narrator is fighting for the soul of her patient Danny, who has become ensnared by Asian-American prostitute Kim in the wake of 9/11. The evil of the terrorist assault is replicated in Kim's evil sex games, previously inflicted on a lover who died during the attack. (She's seen his ghost.) In "Julius," the triptych's middle piece, the domestic battle is joined when rich, 19th-century merchant Noah van Horn refuses to allow his only son Julius to marry a poor Irish artist's model. Ruthless second-in-command Max Rinder, who sees the city "as a lawless territory where ferocity, speed andcunning counted most," arranges the Irish girl's disappearance. Julius has a breakdown and is institutionalized. McGrath's range makes this dense, twisty tale the book's most involving. Strange bedfellows, but good company.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582343129
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 9/6/2005
  • Pages: 243
  • Product dimensions: 4.58 (w) x 7.08 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick McGrath is the author of numerous novels, including Port Mungo, Asylum, Spider, The Grotesque, and Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution. He lives in New York.

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Table of Contents

The year of the gibbet 1
Julius 63
Ground Zero 175
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