Slaves of New York
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Slaves of New York

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  1,637 ratings  ·  77 reviews

Meet the denizens of New York City: artists, prostitutes, saints, and seers. All are aspiring toward either fame or oblivion, and hoping for love and acceptance. Instead they find high rents, faithless partners, and dead-end careers. But between the disappointments come snatches of self-awareness, and astrange beauty in their encounters with one another.
Mass Market Paperback, 309 pages
Published March 1st 1989 by Pocket Books (first published 1986)
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Marissa Morrison
"What happened? How did she lose her job?"
"Ah, this guy came into the deli and asked if they sold half a grapefruit. Lacey told the guy they didn't sell grapefruit halves, only whole ones. But this guy was very persistent and didn't believe her, and insisted she go and ask the manager. So she went into the back room, not realizing the customer was following her. And she yelled, 'Hey, Eddie, some asshole out there wants to buy half a grapefruit.' And then suddenly she realized that the customer w...more
Dec 28, 2007 W.B. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
It's so hip to knock her, or was before she vanished completely from the "cool radar" like the fat kid in the ball bin at Chucky Cheese. Wait, that was a REALLY mixed metaphor! I like her. A sort of I LOVE THE 80s cheesiness and camp. She's not deep not because she's not smart, but probably because she realized early on that the ideological war thing is just a bunch of kids throwing goop and shit at each other on the subway. She got more interested in how or why people survive...or don't. Sort o...more
mark monday
the writing is casual and chatty, the stories amusing and strange. sort of a trifle, yet such an enjoyable one.
I think the best thing about this book might be the hilarious cover.

Slaves of New York is a linked series of short stories which, while not adding up to a novel, are for the most part observant and fun takes on the art scene in New York City in the 1980s.

Many of the characters are met once and never heard from again but a few: jewelry designer Eleanor, and the artists Stash and Marley being the most prominent, are evenly spaced throughout. I feel that Eleanor with her neuroses and her quiet mus...more
John Porter
Just finished it. So I'm 20 years after the fact. Sue me.

Well, I liked it...but I'm sure that's at least partly a by-product of being old enough to remember New York in the 80s when artists (and junkies and drifters...sometimes combined in one body) could be found all over New York. It's a scattershot memoir of a time gone by; bittersweet for me. Hated the hair of the 80s; loved the experimentalism. The 80s took more chances than any decade of the century other than the 60s and, maybe, the 20s.

May 01, 2010 Relyn rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Relyn by: one of my magazines - I'll never listen to them again
This book - UGH! Of course, any book that starts out describing a variety of penises has got to be pretty horrible. It was. At first, the book was like a mystery I wanted to solve. Why on Earth would a major magazine like Oprah (I think that was the one.) recommend such a book? I'm thinking, "Surely the rest is better. Surely the start was a fluke." Nope, it wasn't. Aside for the unappealing (that's an understatement) subject matter, the writing really wasn't very good. I finally had to just sto...more
I remember what a stir this caused when it came out; how vociferous were the jealous anti-Janowitz crowd. So anyway it was speaking to me with its gaudy '80s cover design (not shown here) and my memory of a cultural gap unfilled and so I succumbed to the $3.98 price and purchased same.

Read the first two stories and apart from the interesting physical detail and attitudes found them a tad quaint. But short and enjoyable. New York stories kind of interest me at the moment after having enjoyed Arth...more
Semi-sharp satire of the New York art world in the 80s.
Not as brilliant, I think, as the blurbs on the wrappers make it out to be. But mostly good.
I love short story books where the stories connect with each other. I've only read one other and that was "Adverbs" by David Handler. This one does the same thing, though it has a few short stories that are unrelated. They're sort of serial, but basically they all tell of the life and thoughts of people in the avante garde art scene in the 80's. I like how the author picked characters that were on the fringe of the scene, not ones that were completely submersed in it. In that same vein, I had a...more
Slaves of New York is made up of individual stories about people in the art scene in the 80s. The characters are very original, with some reccurring ones: Eleanor the jewelry designer, and Marley the "genius" painter. For me, the downside was the length of this book made up of unrelated stories. I wasn't enthusiastic about continuing after the first half because I knew there wasn't going to be any character development or plot twists I could be excited about. There were only many peeks inside li...more
Marie Irshad
As a teenager I was a little obsessed with the idea of American artists living in lofts in New York, so this collection of short stories really appealed to me.

I've not read it since but I have overwhelming memories of being irritated to hell by the character Eleanor, a hat designer who appears in several of the stories. She's an annoying drip stuck in a relationship with a selfish artist boyfriend who treats her like crap. I couldn't understand why she stayed with him. Not entirely sure if I'd...more
The quintessence of the eighties can be found in this book, which caused a sensation then. It's still a delightful read, vividly written and quite insightful. New York glitters and fascinates, thanks to Janowit'z style. It's interesting how, now, already, this world somehow seems to belong to a lost era, giving to this book a kind of nostalgic patina that it didn't have at the time it was published. Janowitz beautifully writes about her city and makes you feel why it's such a unique, vibrant pla...more
I loved this book. Haven't read it in a while, but fondly remember the characters. Janowitz shows us the NYC 80's art scene from the inside out. This book is a modern classic and is recommended to anyone interested in art, the eighties, or the struggles of urban life.
Tommie Vaughn
One of my all time Favorites!!!
A.J. Llewellyn
I have had this book ever since it came out and couldn't sleep last night and pulled it off the shelf. Parts of this book have lived in my head since I first read it in the 1980's. I loved it then. I gobbled up this book in NYC at the time, visiting my brother who was living on Hudson Street. Tama put her finger on a time and place in NYC that is long gone, but still resonates.
If you want to know what the city was like then, this is it. Read it and weep. She is all that and a bag of chips.
When I...more
Pippa Jones
This book was massively disappointing. I thought it would be similar to Jay McInerney's 'bright lights' or Elis' 'less than zero'. Due to Slaves of new york being written in the same time setting of the 1980's yuppie crowd. The characters were not developed well, as the dual narratives interfered with this. There was nothing at all enjoyable about this novel.
I had fonder memories of this that my re-reading discovered.

If ever there was a book of it's time, this may well be it.

The characters are shallow and neurotic, and the stories feel garbled and chaotic.

There are some sharply observed moments of satire in here, but it's really like panning for gold: the odd glimmer isn't going to totally enrich your life.

i found it a chore at times to finish reading it, and were it not for my OCD about finishing books I start, I may not have got through all this a...more
Miguel Pais
I picked up this book for a simbolic price at a book fair in Algarve with the sole purpose of reading it in the beach, but I did not expect to be so disappointed.
The various stories begin in a compelling way, but my interest soon faded because of the lack of consistence. Tama Janowitz's "brat-pack" style of writing, disfiguratively minimalistic, affects the overall story build-up and doesn't let it take full advantage of the Manhattan scenario potential (which, I admit, I am picky about). Also,...more
Lolly LKH
While I found the 'floating' style a little annoying (I prefer to become deeply involved in the characters), it was still fun. Dated though it is, I find people like her characters still exist. I don't think it was as fantastic as many people claimed and I found I had to force myself to finish as the novel lost my interest from the middle. I sometimes feel when reading a novel with a bunch of stories that never get 'deep' or 'involved' that I am being cheated and my time ripped off. I can't say...more
Very evocative, very funny. I'm not usually a fan of the "loosely-linked vignettes" form but it works well here due to the strong sense of place that Janowitz creates.
"you and bruce" is my favorite. all of them are very shallow. at some points you can't tell whether the overt stupidity and mistrust of the reader comes from the narrator or the author. i don't recommend reading all of them - it's like eating so much ice cream that your mouth gets cold and you can't even taste anymore. when i finished the book i wanted to go sit in some dumb, lush romance novel where all the characters have feelings, banal though they may be.
I have loved the movie since I was in High School before I subsquintly moved to New York where I started my own life as an artist. I finally just started reading the original book and it is great. My goal was for my book Getting Personal to be a more up to date LA version with the same unapologetic rawness. Definately read Slaves of New York, and watch the movie if you can. It's a who's who of great Indie film actors before they blew up.
Dec 27, 2011 Cheri rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 80's Lovers
Shelves: pop-lit
Of all the "hot" writers of the 80's, I have to say I have a soft spot for Tama Janowitz. During a time when everyone was writing about testosterone driven coke heads, she seemed to bring some much needed irony and humor into the mix. I can't say that it holds up to contemporary scrutiny, but in a sea of macho Top Gun types and Flashdancian strippers with a heart of gold - her characters gentle neuroses seem more real and touching.
It took me ages to finish this because I frequently found it so depressing I had to put it down for a few weeks. I'm not sure how I feel about Tama Janowitz's writing--I like the humor, I like the characters in theory, and God help me I like how often she writes about what people are wearing or what their apartments look like, but there's something oddly dispassionate about her characters that makes me want to shake them.
I originally read this as a teenager, and loved it. I still love it - Tama Janowitz is funny and I like her straightforward style of writing. But this time around I noticed that some of the stories read like slightly deranged Mad Libs, and that when there is dialogue it often seems like the people talking are having two different conversations. But I think she probably did both on purpose.
This book features a mostly dislikeable cast, but the writing is a quirky blend of affection and mockery. There are elements of humor nicely meshed with Ballardian disconnection and ennui. My favorite story was the one about a woman that replaces Bruce Springsteen’s wife, hoping for the rock star life but ending up trapped in surreal blue collar absurdity.
This book does not hold up. Really trite and mediocre writing. I read it when I came out. I think I was in high school. But now it only serves to represent an error that no longer exists, and that is why it is still interesting to read.
Amy Wolf
Just OK -- not great. Janowitz was the toast of the town when this was published, but she hasn't really kept up her high profile. The "slaves" of whom she speaks are those who pay huge rents for small spaces in Manhattan, so boo hoo. Move. All in all, just can't muster up a lot of enthusiasm for this one.
This is a funny, weird book of short vignettes about the less-than-happy living situations people will put endure in pursuit of their love of NYC. It's not quite a novel but has recurring characters, so easy to pick up for short spurts and easy to revisit if you haven't picked it up in a while.
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Tama Janowitz is an American novelist and a short story writer. The 2005 September/October issue of Pages magazine listed her as one of the four "brat pack" authors, along with Bret Easton Ellis, Mark Lindquist and Jay McInerney.

Born in San Francisco, California to a psychiatrist father and literature professor mother who divorced when she was ten, Janowitz moved to the East Coast of the United St...more
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“I don't like him...he makes me feel like he's going to throw me in a coffin and walk around on top of it.” 2 likes
“...and it made me uncomfortable the way this guy was eating a scrawny chicken wing and looking at me. You know, I just wanted to tell him to knock it off and be a person.” 1 likes
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