Careers for Women starts well, in the typing pool of the PR department of the New York Port Authority, the heroine a young woman who dreams of a career and is inspired by her female boss. But the story is really about another coworker, a single mother with a secret and a grudge, and a dark end. The descriptions of the 50s work environment are so good I would have liked more of it, and less of the sadly familiar single-mom struggles. And the fictional setting did not have to focus on the beginnings of the World Trade Center either, I think. Surely New York has many more stories that those around this tragic icon.
Tag Archives: New York
New People goes on (and on) about the doubts and second thoughts of a young woman about to be married to her college boyfriend. She seems to have everything going for her — except that she just cannot be sure he is the right persona and pursues, crazily, a poet she barely knows, in secret of her boyfriend of course. There are some funny moment, especially when she is mistaken for the babysitter of the poet’s neighbor, but only a handful. If you like to read about the (puny) inner life of a confused young New Yorker, this is the book for you.
Not for me.
The dreamers in Behold The Dreamers are two undocumented immigrants from Cameroon trying to make it in New York City. They soon find themselves working for a rich trader’s family and they can see their American Dream within reach. But the 2008 recession is looming, which will deprive the trader of his lucrative job and expose his personal troubles while the immigration courts grind towards expulsion. The complicated relationship between the rich employers and their poor employees is captured perfectly, with the employers utterly unaware of the financial hardships of their chauffeur and housekeeper, and blithely assuming a relationship of equals while the employees carefully weigh each interaction to keep the jobs they desperately need. And there are no stock characters here: each can display kindness as well as hate, and has deep secrets.
Mister Monkey reads as a series of short stories, each focusing on a different character loosely associated with a mediocre production of a children’s play of the same name. The style is engaging but the structure feels a bit forced. And don’t expect too much depth although it is peppered with perceptive observations about the plight of the new teacher forced into political correctness, or the young actor who does not quite know what to do with his feeling for adult actresses.
Modern Lovers features two hipster couples, one lesbian and one heterosexual, friends since college. They live in a hipster Brooklyn neighborhood and their (only) teenage children have fallen in love, to their dismay (it’s not entirely clear why this is causing so much dismay). Cue in the kale and the yoga and all the other hipster accoutrements.
In addition to the children problem, the lone husband has yet to find himself (poor dear, he has a solid trust fund that has prevented him from going out to work) and a film about a long-lost partner in their college band is reviving uncomfortable memories. O, the travails of hipster life. I attained zero compassion for any of the characters.
The co-authors of How May We Hate You?: Notes from the Concierge Desk used to work for various hotels in New York City and recount their adventures with difficult customers with humor, yes, but a snarky, condescending, even hateful bite that makes one wonder whether to ever approach a concierge desk again. Sure, there are awful human beings out there and some frequent hotels and harass concierges, but surely the clueless tourist who does not realize they are already on 42nd street, or thinks that reservations to sold-out shows are obtainable by all-powerful concierges are simply confused and deserve a little pep talk rather than a nasty harangue. Pass on this one.