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Slaves of New York

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  3,675 ratings  ·  146 reviews
A coterie of artists, prostitutes, saints, and seers are all aspiring towards fame and hoping for love and acceptance. Instead they find high rents, faithless partners, and dead-end careers. Offbeat, funny and bitingly satirical, "Slaves of New York" sheds an incomparable light on the city's denizens and social mores. ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published December 1st 2005 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 1986)
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Average rating 3.45  · 
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 ·  3,675 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was the first book of short stories I have ever read that felt like a novel at some points. The characters are interesting and the dialog seems real and the characters you come to know are people you want to know about. Marley and Elenor are the main ones and their stories only coincide for a moment, but the rest of everyone seems like they could all be living in the same building. Because this is a book about New York with "New York" in the title, there is something understood going in and ...more
Must have more. Need more now. Send help soon. I am not sure I will survive without more from this author immediately. I need it and I cannot go on without...more!!.
Please, tell me that her other works are congruent with this one. Because this is BRILLIANCE! Pure sheer Brilliance. I laughed hysterically, but it was more like scream laughing, it was seriously that funny. And it felt good to laugh that deep into my soul. I suggest you go purchase the movie as well, they are both amazing, and diff
Marissa Morrison
Feb 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"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
John Porter
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.

Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
C. Bella
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is terrific,amazing and well written.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had been looking for a book exactly like Tama Janowitz’s Slaves of New York. Not so much one made up of loosely connected short stories – though it’s an approach I’ll almost always find irresistible, even if executed haphazardly – or that romanticized an era which has always fascinated me (in this case, the early 1980’s). If anything, I was looking for the literary equivalent to Nan Goldin’s landmark photo exhibit, “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”. What do you know, it’s been right under my n ...more
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
A.J. Llewellyn
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own-a-copy
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
Tommie Vaughn
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time Favorites!!!
kate rushing
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
"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. ...more
mark monday
the writing is casual and chatty, the stories amusing and strange. sort of a trifle, yet such an enjoyable one.
Rachel Louise Atkin
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, new-york
3.5 stars. This is a collection of tales about New York City in the 1980s and is considered a major work of the literary brat pack. The best thing about this was Janowitz’s writing because it’s incredibly unique and addictive, weaving through the lives of various people around New York and daring you to follow them in their hedonistic and self destructive tirades.

I liked some stories better than others; the very last story was my absolute favourite and has left me genuinely haunted. At some part
Leo Robertson
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Too many stories syndrome! Just condense and tell the best 10. #Jesus
May 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Relyn by: one of my magazines - I'll never listen to them again
Shelves: abandoned
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
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. ...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
A collection of short stories centered on a few downtown NYC artists. Janowitz is not without talent, but too many of these stories feel almost extravagantly pointless, trailing off into a kind of deadpan absurdity or hipster poignancy (it took me over a month to finally finish it). I did enjoy the stories centered on Eleanor, a mixed up twenty-something jewelry maker involved in a bad relationship with a semi-successful artist named Stash; these seemed the most focused and relatable (not to men ...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 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
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
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Satire that is as dated as a Punch and Judy puppet show.
I started Slaves of New York after reading both Thomas DePietro’s and Jay McInerney’s reviews of the book. At first, I found their criticism harsh but as I delved into the book I ended up agreeing with most of the points made by them. I agree with McInerney’s remark that the characters in Janowitz’s short stories “do not experience catharsis or epiphany”, “stories are static” and the “maddening passivity” displayed by these characters is “reflected in the narrative stance”.

I found Eleanor parti
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Kirsty Bates
Oct 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Janowitz's writing is very hip. Her stories are short, they're arguably trivial and even -- pointless, they deal with all manner of hipsters and under-appreciated artists and the hypocrisies surrounding trying to 'make it' in New York. I think to some extent, she tries to achieve a kind of, disaffected carelessness when it comes to presenting their stories. After all, the media later placed her well within the centre of the infamous literary 'brat-pack'. There's no denying either that Janowitz w ...more
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: s, female-author
This is very much a novel of its time set in the consumerist 80's and it hasn't aged as well as others written around a similar time. Many of the characters as selfish and self-centred, focusing on where their next hit, drink or sexual encounter would come from.

The book itself is written as a set of short interlinking stories. Some of the characters appear more than once and others do not. Normally I like this style of writing as it makes it easy to pick up and put down when time is short, but
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
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Slaves of New York seems best read as an artifact from New York's art world in the 1980s. It had occasional moments of humor, but more of just flat out absurdity. I don't think Janowitz intends for us to actually know any of the characters or necessarily find their predicaments particularly believable. She writes about the outlandish in order to poke fun at the foolishness and pretensions of denizens of New York's art scene. All that said, I also just didn't find it all that much fun, even thoug ...more
Rachel Pollock
Didn't care for it. I can appreciate it as a snapshot of NYC in the 80s, but because i ultimately disliked all of the narrators, reading it wasn't a good time. Not that everything has to be a good time, or that liking a narrator is a personal criterion for enjoying a book, even. I just found it to be a hard slog, and not much fun. I would probably consider reading something else from this author, just to see if my "meh" was particular to this book and its overall concept. ...more
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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

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