City in Love: The New York Metamorphoses

City in Love: The New York Metamorphoses

by Alex Shakar


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060508838
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/17/2002
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.39(d)

About the Author

Alex Shakar is the author of the story collection City in Love, which won the 1996 National Fiction Competition and was published by The Fiction Collective. It was an Independent Presses Editors' "Pick of the Year." Shakar graduated from Yale University in 1990, was a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Read an Excerpt

The Sky Inside

Lunatic Leaves Letter on Times Square Screen, Egg on Finest's Faces!

H is the letter fixed in the mind of an unknown insane man, and on the face of the Jumbotron television screen, and now, in the imaginations of millions of New Yorkers.

It happened hours before dawn on the morning of March 4. The nimble symbolist climbed onto a billboard scaffold attached to the narrow face of One Times Square and hoisted it to the Jumbotron. Then, putting the available equipment to use, he painted on the screen a twelve foot-high letter H in billboard paste.

"He looked deranged," said a limousine driver who wishes to remain anonymous. "The static electricity from the screen made his hair rise up around his baseball hat."

The crazy character was not finished!

He raised the scaffold above the Jumbotron, up to the flashy Glitterati Magazine sign. He then smashed a hole into the bottom of the "Glitterator" -- the giant glass tube which circulates an air-blown stream of glitter around the display. The glitter poured down the building and stuck to the glue, leaving a glittering H on the Jumbotron.

Meanwhile, in the Times Square police station -- the one-story outpost located at the foot of the building -- officers on duty remained unaware of the mayhem of littering, glittering and lettering going on right over their heads.

Unimpeded, the loony letter-setter lowered himself to the sidewalk and sauntered off!

The men in blue are red in the face, sources confide. They are checking mental wards for escapees, but have no substantial leads.

"There is not enough information to determine whetherhis delusions are those of paranoia, of grandeur, of persecution, or of reference," criminal psychologist Edward Leech admitted. "In this city, there are as many insanities as people!"


One time before I gone down to First Street to see Señora Menski. That was when my grandfather was sick and I did not know what for them to do, the healing or the death. So I gone to Señora Menski and she did the horoscope and she told me. My abuelo was going to die. I come back and they do the ceremony? and he died and he was happy.

But that day of the second time something happened and I did not know what it means. Because I was down in Mommy's basement dusting the altars? And I looked up through the small window in front and I saw them walking on the sidewalk. A China man and a China woman, and they was walking toward each other, walking real slow like, and they was both young like me, and they had I swear to God the same face, real calm, and wise. And they was crossing by each other without a word, without even a look. They was crossing by on the square of sidewalk right in front of my window and they keep on going, the same steps, touching the sidewalk at just the same times, like they was the two of them the same. I never saw any Chinese on my street and now there was two of them, crossing like that? I could not get them out of my head. It was a sign.

Signs are everywhere. They are more of them now then ever, signs giving birth to signs. I was not so good yet at reading them. So I gone down to Señora Menski to ask her what could this sign mean.

You know Señora Menski? Madame Menski. It say that on the window sign. She's real like funny looking? She be all big and fat with a face like bread dough and she got the one long hair sticking out of her chin and she wears the long dresses like so long you can't even see her feet? I know she don't look real wise and she don't talk real wise, but she's a wise lady and she knows the future even. So I asked her. And she drawed the lines on the maps with stars. And she measured with all the tools and scientific things. And she did the math. And she's like Maria, yuh gonna find a man.

That's how she talk like.

I said I don't think so.

And she's like Why not. Yuh young and pretty. And powerful.

She said powerful. Just like they was always telling me at the centro, and she said the same thing.

I said Because I think, men are scared of me? Sometimes I got the temper. Men, they get all scared about that. Then they hear about my Spiritism and they think I am a brujera, a witch. They think that I am going to like put a hex on them or something.

And Señora Menski's face get all small and crafty and she's like, Them guys aint worthy a yuh. This time yuh gonna get a winner.

So I asked her What kind of man will he be. And she's like


Then I am like But how will I meet him. How will I know.

But she just pours herself some tea and takes a little drink, this bitty little teacup in the middle of her big round head. I keep on trying for her to look at me? but she always looking at something else. The woman is crafty like that.

Then the door opens and this guy was coming in. So big he be bending down, like the whole world is all too small for him. He got these eyes? blue and real sleepy, and he'sjust standing there with the door open and his big jaw open, looking at me.

Señora Menski said Close the door Howie yuh letting in the cold. And he does it, and with this guy inside, the room all the sudden looked like tiny. His hands was real big and red and clumsy like big red tarantulas ...

City in Love. Copyright © by Alex Shakar. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Zulfikar Ghose

"Reading his stories, what thrills me beyond the pleasure of his magical metamorphoses of contemporary reality is that so young a writer should so seriously be creating a language charged with Nabokov called 'the aestetic vibrancy of authentic literature.'"

Darius James

"Shakar has created some truly dynamic and powerful stories -- stories that ring with all the psychic resonance one expects of myth. City in Love is a grand feat of imagination."

Kathy Acker

"This is a remarkable first book."

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