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Gone to New York: Adventures in the City

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Welcome to Ian Frazier's New York, where every block is an event, and where the denizens are larger than life. Meet landlord extraordinaire Zvi Hugo Segal, and the man who scaled the World Trade Center. Learn the location of Manhattan's antipodes, and meander the length of Route 3 to New Jersey. Like his literary forebears Joseph Mitchell and A. J. Liebling, Frazier makes ...more
Paperback, 203 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by Picador USA (first published 2005)
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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  308 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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May 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'm doubting that this book is really about New York. I've read a few books about memoirs, I suppose, and I usually walk away with the feeling that I know the city a little bit. This book seemed much more about its author than the city. Mayber its unfair since I've been to New York twice and I alrteady have my own opinions, but I just didn't feel like the author ushered me all. This book could have just as easily been about any other city, and sure, it might not have had th ...more
Sep 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting read for me...I think anyone could enjoy it, but I also feel that the only people who can truly appreciate Frazier's NYC experiences are those who are very familiar with the city and probably have lived there...someone without enough knowledge of NYC most likely wouldn't pick up on a lot of the quirks and intricacies that he makes so very colorful. Having said that, if you have any NYC experience or live/have lived there, this is a must read! It's really well written ...more
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Random thoughts, descriptions, observations and few pieces of history about a city; what could be a better read each morning on the bus en route to work.
Bags in trees. The obsession with bag removal was something I could relate to. The authors’ descriptions of his observations were so crystal clear in my head, especially his description of an early morning walk under the El. Antipodes and typewriter man were my two favorites. Something about typewriter man made me want to run out pick up an old
Jun 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
A quick little read. I think I finished this book in one day. I would hate to buy a book like this, as it’s just a collection of previously published magazine articles. But from the library, sure, why not! They are little stories over like 30 yrs from someone who moved to NYC from the Midwest and just their stuff. Stuff like this can be lame most of the time, but since this was a quick, easy, PAINLESS read, I’ll accept it. The writer lived in different parts of the city (including by the end whe ...more
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone interested in any reportage to do with NYC, this book would have to have been pretty bad for me not to enjoy it. I'd already read extracts from it in Heather Reyes' 'City Picks' book on the city, so knew to some extent what to expect, and I more or less got this, in a number of articles written for newspapers and magazines about Frazier's life in and around the city. The quirkier articles included several about plastic bags caught in the trees around the city, but these were offset by ...more
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
My response to each in this collection fell into one of three buckets for me: "Eh, I don't care"; "Hmm, interesting"; and "Gem". Sadly, only a small handful fell into the last bucket -- but those that are gems are real gems. My biggest disappointment in the book is how little the book felt to me like it was about NYC.

I hate how disrespectful this sounds, but the book was right for its place in my literary life: I saw it on a cart of used books outside a bookstore near my office. At lunchtime, wh
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this because I read his Lamentations of the Father in a humor collection and liked it very much. This book was fun to read before a trip to New York - I wandered streets that he mentioned and experienced them today compared to his notes years ago. Ian's sense of humor and his experiences were very interesting. I'm reading Acme vs Coyote next...
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed the musings of Ian Frazier over the years in the New Yorker and now Outside magazine. So I was surprised when at times I lost interest in this collection. However it does offer a few gems.
May 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Uneven overall, but there are enough gems that it's worth checking out. My personal favorite is the one about Rt. 3 in New Jersey (and not only for the imagery of a New Yorker writer fighting his way through the wild vegetation alongside a busy New Jersey highway).
May 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2007
An uneven collection of essays that nonetheless becomes an engaging portrait of the New York city area as drawn by a transplanted small-town boy.
Sally Boyer
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm reading this book in preparation for my trip to NYC. It's a hilarious and quirky introduction to my destination.

1993 was a particularly funny year for this author. At the Brooklyn Museum he copies his favorite passages left during the Frederic Bazille exhibition. The contrast between "Bravo! Beautifully executed & a sensitive touching exhibit." and "Bravo! Idiotic pretension and lousy painting." was my favorite.

The quote from George Willig, the man who climbed the World Trade Center in
Jun 22, 2009 added it
Read the STOP SMILING interview with author Ian Frazier

Of No Fixed Accord
By Nathan Kosub

(This interview originally appeared in STOP SMILING The Documentary Issue)

Ian Frazier is a staff writer at the New Yorker, where he began his career over 30 years ago. In April 2005, he revisited the legacies of Baghdad's historical invaders. ?It seems that so much of the foolish and horrible things that people do come from being adrift in the world,? Frazier told me. Against that, a book is ?an efficient way
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this up after an event at which Ian "Sandy" Frazier read. At the event, he had me laughing so hard that tears were rolling down my face. So, imagine my surprise when I began reading this collection of essays and found a more serious tone. And imagine my further surprise, when I discovered this different voice of Frazier's was infinitely more poignant.

The book contains essays about New York City, and they are marvelous. I told a friend of mine, who used to live in the City that she shoul
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
What is it about Fraser's writing that makes me want to learn more about whatever subject he is writing about? I have the same reaction when reading John McPhee. This book made me want to learn more about the Holland Tunnel, and just about any other subject he wrote about. A lot of other writers would put me to sleep if I read an essay about the Holland tunnel, but not Ian Fraser.

I do think that the title is a bit deceptive. The book is not so much "about" New York itself, as it is how the city
Jan 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
So this non fiction book is pretty good. Mr. Frazier writes in such a style that you can tell he is passionate about something: he is passionate about New York. He believes that city has a story to tell and indeed, he is not wrong.

My personal favorite story is "The Morning After"--about 9/11. It sounds morbid and strange to say that was my favorite title in this volume, but it is the truth. There is an honesty and vulnerability that shares many of the same emotions I felt. But his are more "aliv
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Ian Frazier is one of my favorite writers, and though I didn't think that this was one of his best books, there were a number of essays in the book that I enjoyed very much. The Typewriter Man essay and the "Bags in Trees", series of essays, were amusing and interesting. I also enjoyed the somewhat longer essay about Canal Street. Frazier is one of the funniest writers writing, I believe, and though this book of essays does not contain his most humorous writing, his somewhat more serious writing ...more
Oct 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I have encountered the drawback to the essay. They have an expiration date.

I would say this gets a mixed review for me. There were some good pieces and one that stood out for me, but for the most part they were flat and fillerish.

I had pickled this up for two reasons: My current fixation with essays and my pending trip to NYC. I thought this might just be the ticket. I think I would have been better of going back and reading Slaves of New York by Tama Janowitz.

I am not going to be runni
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Maybe not the best of Frazier's books -- three or four of the pieces could have been chopped without much loss. But when Frazier's good, he's really good. He'll sort of pan across a streetscape, noting everything that comes into view, then suddenly fix on something almost at random and dive deep into it, dredging up amazing histories and personal stories. He notices ordinary "found" details that everybody else overlooks -- like grafitti carved into library desks, or visitor comments at a museum ...more
Evanston Public  Library
My daughter and I went to New York City to visit an ailing relative. For the flight I picked up this collection of Big Apple-focused comic nonfiction by Sandy Frazier, the only two-time winner of the James Thurber prize (for humor writing). Frazier is a jester with a great heart, just what I needed for a bittersweet trip. Several essays cheered my 12-year-old companion too. Guaranteed belly laughs, plus something more enduring. (Jeff B., Reader's Services)
Aug 04, 2015 added it
A collection of short pieces by the writer from The New Yorker about the wide variety of place and people found in that city. Topics include the building of the Holland Tunnel, a man who has repaired and refashioned manual typewriters for a living for over fifty years, the author's obsession with plastic bags caught in tree branches and freeing them, and finding the site of the Burr-Hamilton duel in New Jersey. And much more. Really good stuff.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
(3.75 stars). Frazier is at his best in the longer pieces, where he serves as a charming tour guide, both urbane and eccentric. The four best essays here share the same building blocks: gentle humor, a flaneur's keen eye, and the dual perspective of someone who is both a New Yorker and yet not a New Yorker. "Canal Street," "Take the F" (Brooklyn), "Someplace in Queens," and "Route 3" (Weekhawken/Seacaucus, NJ) are what anchor the collection.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I loved New York but the same can be said for “Gone to New York”. The facts and figures can’t rescue a boring topic. After the first try I just didn’t want to pick this up on my morning commute for the rest of the week but powered through. I’m giving Ian Frazier’s essays just 1 star.

See more about what I thought on my blog:
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
I took this book from the shelf at the store because I liked the color. I flipped through the first few pages, and I was caught. I'm not sure why it so appeals to me. Maybe it's because Frazier's observations seem to capture elements of the city so well; maybe it's just because I like his writing style. Either way, I only put the book down last night because dinner called. It took too little time to finish reading today.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Although listed as travel by my library, this actually is a collection of mostly personal reflections of his life in New York (as well as NJ and Ohio), that while not overtly humorous is funny in many ways and, I thought, heartwarming. I really enjoyed it. He mixes in a little history and description of community; having never been to New York, I found it fascinating. I have read him in The New Yorker, and am glad I picked up this collection. I think you will too.
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
This book was average. The only interesting bits were the chapters written about Brooklyn, but only because the author lived in my neighborhood and I was familiar with what he was talking about. NY is a tough place to write about because of the vast array of experiences to be had here. It's not enough to be able to chronicle the neurosis of the residents.
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Megan by: Meghan Helsel
An excellent compilations of short essays!

If you haven't read Ian Frazier before you need to start now. I hadn't read him before and I had no idea what I was missing. I now look to the future and all the Frazier ahead to be invested in.

If you have any suggestions for what to read next of his please let me know.
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed Ian Frazier's pieces in the New Yorker and found this collection about New York City quite entertaining. He is funny and he paints some great images of people and places in the city. He crafts some great sentences.

There are three stories in this collection about Frazier's pursuit of errant plastic bags stuck high in trees. Make sure to read them all!
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I thought that since I had been to New York that a lot of what the author wrote about would resonate with me. But he seemed to write to simply satisfy himself as opposed to writing for others' enjoyment. Tried a few of the pieces and then decided there were more important things to read.h
Apr 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who like reflecting on life.
I like the art on the cover of my copy better--it's a sketch of skyscrapers looking down from above, and they form a heart shape between them.

I lovely book of musings about life in the city. It kept me good company on a bus ride to Boston, and is now lost somewhere around my bed.
Apr 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I'd give this a 3 1/2 stars. Some of the stories were a little too all over the place and had a "free association" feel to it. Others were quite exceptional. All the stories though, in some way, brought back the NY of my childhood. Enjoyable read.
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Ian Frazier (b.1951) is an American writer and humorist. He is the author of Travels in Siberia, Great Plains, On the Rez, Lamentations of the Father and Coyote V. Acme, among other works, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He graduated from Harvard University. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.