The Leonard Lopate Show

Former New York Times City section editor Constance Rosenblum talks about the local news and idiosyncratic, personal stories that appeared in the now defunct section of the Times. She gathered 50 of the section’s best pieces into More New York Stories: The Best of the City Section of The New York Times. She’s joined by two of the book’s contributors John Freeman Gill, Ben Gibberd and Saki Knafo.

Daily Beast Says “More NY Stories” is a Hot Read

The Daily Beast named More New York Stories one of its Hot Reads for the week.

A bittersweet collection from the now-defunct NYT City Section, you don’t have to be a New Yorker to get these stories.

Reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly

Library Journal:
The New York Times printed its last issue of its City Section in May 2009 after 16 years of featuring slices of life in Manhattan and the other four boroughs of New York. Like New York Stories—also edited by the section’s former editor, Rosenblum (Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope Along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx)—this commemorative collection captures the essence of New York’s distinctive urban life. Fifty intriguing and heartfelt essays are divided into four sections—”Characters,” “Places in the City’s Heart,” “Rituals, Rhythms, and Ruminations,” and “Excavating the Past.” The book includes contemporary and historical reflections on the people, places, and spirit of the city. While most of the section’s essays were written by Times staffers, this collection also features contributions from well-known authors like Edwidge Danticat, Jonathan Rosen, and Nathaniel Rich. Verdict For fans of the Big Apple and the New York Times.—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL

Publishers Weekly:
For 16 years, local news and quirky, personal stories found a home in the (now defunct) City section of the Sunday New York Times. Former section editor Rosenblum gathers 50 of the best pieces of the post–September 11 era by masters of the form including Edwidge Danticat and Francine Prose. Roy Hoffman’s remembrance of a West Village buddy with cerebral palsy who was forced to confine his world to the few blocks he could navigate is complemented by Saki Knafo’s tribute to a group of aging amateur athletes who’ve been playing basketball together for 33 years and David McAninch’s appreciative travelogue of the “forgotten” cityscape of lunch counters, taverns, and cigar shops–all odes to a New York less romanticized and more real. Tragedies–like the story of giving a homeless man buried in the city’s potter’s field a proper family funeral–are squeezed like subway passengers between droller accounts of, say, the weekly lunch ritual of the New Yorker’s wry cartoonists. Organized thematically into such categories as “Characters” and “Rituals, Rhythms and Ruminations,” this rich sampling delivers. (Nov.)

Her Private Serenade

His cheerful whistling floated through the window of her West Village apartment, and captured her heart. If only he knew. By Johanna Baldwin.

It’s possible I had seen him before, but not until Christmas Day did I actually notice him. That’s the day he became part of my life. Normally I would have been with my family. This season was different. Not only had I run out of money, lost someone I cared about and needed to be alone, I also wanted to stay home and write. That’s what I was doing the morning of Dec. 25 in the top-floor apartment of the brownstone on West 11th Street when I heard him for the first time.

His music was coming from the east. It was a clear sound, joyous. It was a Christmas carol, although I can’t remember which one. From the windowsill, I couldn’t see much, even with my face pressed against the glass. The only thing I could see was his footprints. It had snowed all night, and the snow was still falling. I could hear a whistling sound moving past my building, but all I could see was the image of a man who was wearing a hooded parka and walking his dog.

Although the whistler and I never met, we spent the entire holiday season together. Nearly every day, he walked down my street whistling a different melody, mostly show tunes. He was the unexpected, unwrapped holiday gift. Anytime I heard him, I moved to my window to get a glimpse. The priority, of course, was to listen, until the sound faded and then turned a corner. Read the rest of this entry »

Razzle-Dazzle Me: Times Square at 100

Times Square is successful because people wait in huge hordes, in numbers the size of entire towns in North Dakota, for the light to change. By Robert Sullivan.

From the window of a plane at night, when everyone seems to be asleep and the movie is over and the cabin lights have been dimmed, when you’re exhausted and have been away from New York long enough to miss it (even though no sane person would miss your rent), when your captain heads to La Guardia by heading up the Hudson, then Times Square, that clearly discernible ribbony intersection, is a beacon, a canyon of brilliantness, an electrified message, a flashlight that makes it possible to read your magazine in your window seat without even turning on your overhead light. From the ground, Times Square does not seem so concentrated, though it is a canyon, and I love driving into Times Square at night, coming down Broadway into the chasm of absolute illumination. And if you climb out of the Times Square station, you are in a room in which you accidentally left the light on.

In Times Square, it is as if an entire city has woken up at 2 a.m. and found the TV blaring.

Maybe on the back roads of Ohio, in a beautiful small town that has yet to be Wal-Marted out of existence, there is an old country restaurant in which a steaming apple pie is being placed on a well-cleaned counter, and if so, that is a picture of the heart of America, the romantic postcard. Times Square, on the other hand, is the picture of America’s guts, the country’s capitalistic machinations exposed like the plumbing on the Pompidou Center in Paris. See the lights, the ads, the logos all blinking, flashing, shouting, hawking, selling. Sales is the protoplasm running through Times Square.

The birthday of Times Square is the birthday of its most recent naming, in 1904, when Adolph S. Ochs, the publisher of The New York Times, moved to the square, formerly known as Long Acre. Long Acre Square at the time was an exclusive residential neighborhood in decline, last known for what were referred to as silk-hat brothels, which just goes to show that the sale of sex predated Times Square. When the railroads and the subways built stations in Midtown, Midtown became the city’s commercial center. The theaters followed, along with their signs, and Times Square became the Crossroads of the World. Read the rest of this entry »

About the Book

Buy: NYU Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“New York is the plural city par excellence, the place of many tales. This new collection, taken from the pages of the city paper, gives us a new luxuriance of New York stories, neither neatly splashy nor narrowly sociological, but instead with the spice and eccentricity and plural energy that New Yorkers will recognize as ours and non-New Yorkers may wish was theirs.”-Adam Gopnik, author of Through The Children’s Gate: A Home In New York

“The City section was an invaluable counterpoint, almost a stowaway, on the cruise liner of the Sunday New York Times. It delivered news that stays news—indelible and intimate stories of city life, by turns disturbing, amusing, and enchanting. The pieces in this collection are as alive now as they were when they first saw newsprint. Reading them again, even across a distance of years, was like bumping into old friends.”-Thomas Beller, author of The Sleep-Over Artist and How to Be a Man

What do Francine Prose, Suketu Mehta, and Edwidge Danticat have in common? Each suffers from an incurable love affair with the Big Apple, and each contributed to the canon of writing New York has inspired by way of the New York Times City Section, a part of the paper that once defined Sunday afternoon leisure for the denizens of the five boroughs. Former City Section editor Constance Rosenblum has again culled a diverse cast of voices that brought to vivid life our metropolis through those pages in this follow-up to the publication New York Stories (2005).

The fifty essays in More New York Stories unite the city’s best-known writers to provide a window to the bustle and richness of city life. As with the previous collection, many of the contributors need no introduction, among them Kevin Baker, Laura Shaine Cunningham, Dorothy Gallagher, Colin Harrison, Frances Kiernan, Nathaniel Rich, Jonathan Rosen, Christopher Sorrentino, and Robert Sullivan; they are among the most eloquent observers of our urban life. Others are relative newcomers. But all are voices worth listening to, and the result is a comprehensive and entertaining picture of New York in all its many guises.

The section on “Characters’’ offers a bouquet of indelible profiles. The section on “Places”takes us on journeys to some of the city’s quintessential locales. “Rituals, Rhythms, and Ruminations” seeks to capture the city’s peculiar texture, and the section called “Excavating the Past” offers slices of the city’s endlessly fascinating history.

Delightful for dipping into and a great companion for anyone planning a trip, this collection is both a heart-warming introduction to the human side of New York and a reminder to life-long New Yorkers of the reasons we call the city home.

About the Editor

Constance Rosenblum was the longtime editor of the City section of The New York Times, a Sunday section that used the techniques of narrative nonfiction to explore issues affecting New York City and the texture of life in the five boroughs. From 1990 to 1997, she was editor of the paper’s Arts and Leisure section, and previous to that she was deputy Arts and Leisure editor. She currently writes the Habitats column in the paper’s Sunday Real Estate section.

Prior to joining The Times, she was culture editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and a reporter and editor at The New York Daily News. She has taught courses in cultural and urban affairs reporting at Columbia Journalism School and worked as a writer for the New York City Planning Commission, where she helped draft the city’s first master plan.

She is the author of Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, “Gold Digger: The Outrageous Life and Times of Peggy Hopkins Joyce,” a biography of a Jazz Age celebrity, published in 2000 by Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt. She is also the editor of “New York Stories: The Best of the City Section of The New York Times,” published in 2005 by NYU Press.

She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn.

Events with the Editor & Authors

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Noon-1:30 pm
Readings by contributors to “More New York Stories”
92YTribeca
200 Hudson St, NY, NY 10013
http://www.92y.org/

Past Events
Tuesday, November 9
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Tenement Talks
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Tenement Visitor Center/Gift Shop
108 Orchard St (at Delancey Street), New York, N.Y.
www.tenement.org

Monday, November 15
7 p.m.
Readings by contributors to “More New York Stories”
McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street (near Mulberry Street), New York, N.Y. 10012
212-274-1160
www.mcnallyjackson.com

Wednesday, Nov. 17th
7 p.m.
Book talk with the editor
NYU Bookstore
726 Broadway, New York, NY
http://www.bookstores.nyu.edu/a>

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
7 pm
Readings by contributors to “More New York Stories”
Book Court
163 Court St, Brooklyn
http://www.bookcourt.org/

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
6:30 – 8 pm
Readings by contributors to “More New York Stories”
New York Public Library Mid-Manhattan Branch
455 5th Avenue
http://www.nypl.org

Thursday, January 6, 2011
8 p.m.
Readings from “More New York Stories”
Jackrabbit Sports
151 Seventh Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn
718-636-9000
www.jackrabbitsports.com

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
6:30 – 8 pm
Readings by contributors to “More New York Stories”
Gotham Center for NYC History
Recital Hall
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Ave, New York, N.Y.
www.gothamcenter.org