"Subtle, such patient stories.... The effect is cumulative, quietly powerful. A remarkable talent."--Michael Knight, The Typist "Moss's lyrical collection of stories is beautifully held together by deft observations of city life combined with great sensitivity to the humanity beating beneath it all."--Brad Gooch, Flannery "Incredibly well-conceived and written."--Patrick Samway, Walker Percy, a Life "Exquisitely written and quietly powerful...an unforgettable cast of characters, each with a unique and compelling narrative, who are inextricably linked to Bryant Park--safe haven against the secrets, disillusionments, fears, and losses engulfing their lives."--Patrick Perry, executive editor, The Saturday Evening Post "Luminous stories...for their deep compassion, their concern for human struggles, their reverence for work and love and fortitude, and their delight in everyday human generosity. This is the kind of debut we need."--David Ebenbach, Into the Wilderness Bryant Park becomes a microcosm of humanity and an elegy for a lost New York. From the doorman of 40 years to the woman obsessed with receipts; the man who sweeps the park, the tourists, the homeless; life with its pathos and raucous beauty shines in these characters, who all delight in the park's tiny world of laughter and music. N. West Moss 's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The New York Times, Salon, The Saturday Evening Post, Brevity , and elsewhere. Writing awards include the 2015 Great American Fiction Contest from The Saturday Evening Post and two Faulkner-Wisdom gold medals.
I received this book for free through LibraryThing's Member Giveaways.
I give this book 3.5 stars which rounds up to 4.
This was a solid collection, however, it felt like it was missing something. I don't know if that's just me because everyone else seems to love this. I just didn't connect much with the stories. That being said, it was still a good collection of stories. It had a nice cohesiveness.
This book is gorgeous, painful, and tender. I loved each piece and found myself re-reading portions over and over just because the images and sentences were that breathtaking. N. West Moss is an author to be admired and read for years to come.
A while back, a friend of mine suggested I might enjoy reading a story written by a friend of his. That story was "Dad Died" by N. West Moss. I read her sensitive, moving story and found myself touched to the core by its profoundly spiritual nature. That lead me to connect with West on Facebook, where I discovered that her special perspective on life and the world around us was remarkably in sync with much of what is in my heart. When her story "Omeer's Mangoes won the "Saturday Evening Post's" Great American Fiction Contest, I eagerly got a copy and was drawn by West's writing once again into her character's life and world. Both of those stories are included in "The Subway Stops at Bryant Park," and they are joined by nine other stories that confirm my sense of West's creative gift.
All of these stories have some connection to New York City's Bryant Park and will have a special appeal to people familiar with the city and this particular corner. I don't have that connection, although my brother-in-law did start his career on the staff of the New York Public Library years ago. I found the references to the park to be a special part of this collection, but I discovered that the stories were connected to each other in ways that did not relate to the geography. West Moss sees the world around her through attentive eyes and processes it with a compassionate heart. What unites these stories, for me, is her love of her characters, her respect for them, and her deep sensitivity to the human condition. The people West draws for us are amazingly real, very human, and portrayed in a way that makes the reader care about them and their circumstances.
Though I'm not sure she realized it when compiling this beautiful collection, a recurrent theme in the stories is loss. A number of her characters are dealing with the death of a loved one, whether human or feline. As a reader I found myself reflecting on the impact of death and grief on the surviving person's life. There is a kind of "before and after" reality at work. Even the anticipation of death through illness, loss of cognitive ability, hospitalization, or a change in the nature of a relationship brings a change in perception and sometimes in behavior.
There are other losses that come into play as well - loss of innocence, loss of position, loss of security and more. West's characters are faced with the reality of life's uncertainty and with the struggle to find one's way in the face of it all. That is not to say that these stories are dark or gloomy. The opposite is true. We see strength, courage, resilience, perseverance, and hope. Through it all, the human character is revealed and celebrated.
At heart, I found a unique kind of spirituality in the characters and their stories. Entering into their lives and circumstances was a way of connecting with other humans and discovering our shared nature with all of our dreams and desires, our fears and our longings, our pain and our grief, our joy and our hope. That is a spiritual gift of a very special sort.
When I received my copy of "The Subway Stops at Bryant Park," I told the author that I expected to be blessed in reading it. I was not disappointed. I love this book and expect to revisit it often.
Beautifully related short stories, where the setting is Bryant Park, or at least a walk through the lovely park. If you like Bryant Park, you will love these stories; if you love New York City, you will find these stories heartwarming. But most of all, it is the characters that come alive with such power that keeps you in the moment. I lived each one of their lives through these stories.
Though these stories are all connected to Bryant Park in NYC in some way, this doesn't feel like a New York book. There's little discussion of the business of the place, the anonymity that so many NYC writers seem bound to discuss at length. Rather Moss chooses to focus on the lives of her characters creating a true neighborhood. These stories reveal the lives of some very ordinary folks, their inner workings and vulnerabilities, with a quiet grace.
So much pain but a lot of beauty! Great collection of stories.
Omar’s Mangoes - 4* - definitely brought me back to Bryant Park, taking needed breaks in the middle of a hectic NYC. Loved the parallels between the park and Omeer’s life, the history of the park, Omeer’s way of finding special things in the simplest. Sky View Haven - 3* - seeing your parent grow old and loose their identity is a bitch. Milagro- 4* - a weird, yet delicate story. Loved the dog named Mitzvah! Beautiful Mom - 3* - an average girl who was abandoned by her beautiful mother come to visit her in the city, to continue being in her shadow, even for the brief meeting. Lucky Cat - 4* - the ugly cat whose sole purpose was to fight the rats, gets what the girl wanted all along. Dubonnet - 5* - a connection is made to another story, in a heart ranching account of an old woman whose dead husband’s memories are better companion then her living son and his family. Spring Peepers - 4* - lost of youth and the endless opportunities they contained. Dad Died - 3* - sad yet not enough. Patience and Fortitude - 3* - a girl starts her life in the big city while clinging to a failed relationship. Next Time - 3* - another story of a daughter coping with her father’s death. The Absence of Sound - 4* - the loneliness is not a bad place for a librarian who prefers the company of books.
The Subway Stops at Bryant Park is a collection of short stories written by N. West Moss. Reading it is a unique experience.
Moss creates vivid characters – a Pakistani immigrant, a young college girl, an old woman of questionable mental capacity, and other unforgettable folk. At first I felt a lack of drama in the stories, especially in the endings, but they appear together in a larger picture that includes the main character of the book, Bryant Park itself, and that changes everything.
Some characters work in the park, others visit it briefly, the same statue of Gertrude Stein is experienced by different characters, likewise the pianist who comes once a week to play there, and birds, and the plants.
The park is a changing but unmovable presence, mired in garbage at times, dressed up for a party at others. In the first story, “Omeer’s Mangoes,” the park goes from lowbrow to highbrow over Omeer’s adult lifetime. After reading this story, it is easy for the reader to locate the park chronologically for the later stories.
Moss is deft with her descriptions and has a particular facility with fresh similes and metaphors: “The patients looked like white-haired birds, perched in their wheelchairs, their mouths wide open, waiting for food and pills to be dropped in,” or “Her enormous fat rolls spilled out from underneath her shirt, smooth and round as a wet otter.” The language itself is a delight.
Life and death, poverty and wealth, music, drama, poetry all drift through Bryant Park, pulling in the life around it. It exists in memory, in anticipation, and in contemporaneous action. The soft endings to each story only emphasize that each life puffs in and out of the park, then moves on, while the park itself remains eternal, or as eternal as things can ever be in New York City.
I loved this collection of short stories. They are subtle, they are not fast paced in any way, the writing simply allows you to glimpse into the lives of very different people going thru very different situations yet they tie together in that each character, whether a child, old man or middle aged woman has some sort of tie to Bryant Park. Moss lets you absorb each character so you feel their hurt pain and loss. My absolute favorites are "Dad Died" (the title itself conveys such simple matter of fact pain) "Milagro" and "Beautiful Mom". Solid 4.5 stars. If you read one collection of short stories this year, this is the one I would recommend. The writing style reminded me of Hemmingway's short stories, able to convey such feeling and emotion by the setting, description, and action, not having to tell you what the character is feeling or thinking.
I did like the book, though I always find short stories a bit abrupt and without a real "ending"...
If nothing else, the interweaving of the stories and the people in them demonstrated once again that, yes, we ARE all interwoven, we are all in life together whether we want to be or not, and, most of all that everyone HAS a story...
Across from the New York Public Library, Bryant Park welcomes a cast of unusual regulars. The old woman who rolls in on Tuesdays with a suitcase swathed in plastic wrap. The guy with waterlogged shoes and pockets full of coins filched from the fountain. The silent park sweeper who catches leaves as they fall. A superb storyteller, N. West Moss lets us get to know a few of these characters, while others slide in and out of view. Sometimes Bryant Park is main stage, sometimes it’s barely mentioned. Moss moves the scenes as if she has a camera rolling. In “Beautiful Mom,” the stolid statue of Gertrude Stein leans over the reunion of a daughter and her runaway mother. In “Patience and Fortitude,” the library’s stone lions witness a young woman’s discovery that a happy childhood will not “inoculate a person against the human tsunami of carelessness.” My favorite is “Dubonnet,” a coming-of-old-age tale in which we find out why that woman wheels a plastic-wrapped suitcase to the weekly piano concert. “I mean, I’m not naive,” she tells us, “and what with the tourists in the park, there would be criminals too, and I just wanted to be able to relax.” After spending some time in her mind, this makes sense. That’s the takeaway from this emotionally rich collection. Moss opens her characters’ minds to us, and we open our hearts to them.
Short stories, all of them centered on Bryant Park in New York City and its immediate environs. Moss’s characters are doormen, recently bereaved women, street sweepers, elderly immigrants, research librarians. They may be peripheral to wider society, but they’re central to their neighborhood. It’s a love song to New York, and each story is polished but without preciousness or self-consciousness. I didn’t know Moss’s work before now, and I don’t think she’s available in the UK; this was a birthday present from Literary Uncle.
Revolving around Bryant Park and loosely connected characters, you leave this collection wondering not just about the fates of the characters in the book, but you become more acutely aware of the miracle of stories that are swirling around you at all times. This book made me want to be more gentle to my fellow fragile humans.
Loved each of the characters and the intricacies of their internal dialogues. So many books about NYC smack you over the head with the fact that they're about NYC, but this book focuses so much more on the people for who they are and reminds you that everyone everywhere, even in a crazy bustling city, has a story, no matter how small and ordinary.
The Subway Stops at Bryant Park is a great little collection of stories.
Lucky Cat was one of my favorites in this collection. As with any collection of short stories, some of them fell a little flat for me. Some were a little more boring or mundane... others were a little more... sad and/or heartwarming.
I think this book will be more... emotional and nostalgic for those that are from that area or know the area well. I personally have NEVER been to this area and have only seen it on tv. So I think some of the stories just didn't hit my heart like they did for others.
Nonetheless, this was great writing. I enjoyed the book.
I usually don't read collections of short stories. They aren't very satisfying to me. However, I loved The Subway Stops at Bryant Park. Most of the stories are interwoven around the park in NYC. Even though the characters in the stories don't interact with each other, they may see each other in the park, especially on the days when music is played in the park. Everyone loves that. These are wonderful stories that I will definitely remember.
This was a collection of short stories about the different people who live in NY and the different significance/memories they each had of the city/Bryant Park. It kind of reminded me of “the humans of NY” posts that I’d read on social media. Very easy read!
These stories are beautiful — intuitive and incisive, sorrowful and hopeful. Perhaps one of the best things I can say about the stories in THE SUBWAY STOPS AT BRYANT PARK is that they made me long to visit NYC when I know full well that I hate it there.
Short stories about the lives of several New Yorkers whose narratives intersect in the most subtle of ways thanks to their shared interest in Bryant Park. It was fun watching the characters pop up in each other's stories, giving the reader a glimpse at the same scene through different perspectives. Each story felt very raw, very human, as the characters dealt with issues like loss, death, and the ups and downs of everyday relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. This book was a pleasant surprise from beginning to end. It left me feeling melancholic, thoughtful, and appreciative.
This was a wonderful collection of stories about the lives of different people all tied together by their relationship with Bryant Park. Each story brings a new character to life and deals with some aspect of their emotional state. I could really picture the people and what they were going through despite the fact that none of the stories were very long. All together very well done and good read.
I received this book as part of a good reads giveaway but the opinions expressed are solely my own.
I read this book after meeting West Moss at the Faulkner event in New Orleans. It's tricky meeting an author first then reading, I've always done it the other way around. This book reminds me of "Whatever's Eating Gilbert Grape," a book I had to read after seeing the movie. And I know why. Both books for me were so drop-dead real in some this-isn't-real-it's-too-real sort of way, not just reminding me of what I'd witnessed in my own life, but in ways the two writers build simple words into believable human experiences. "...I turned up the road to Mom and Dad's house, which was now just Mom's house, I realized." (From "Dad Died" p. 118) She lets us in on her realization the moment it's happening. While I know West's life and mine were different growing up, she is able to grapple with universal cords of young girls (and not so young girls) growing up. In fact all Moss' women, regardless of their ages, are perfectly honed, 3-dimensional creations. She brings her characters to life through common words and uncommon feelings--not an easy task since those characters run the gamut from a demoted doorman ("Omeer's Mangoes") who expects nothing, to Tommy, ("Lucky Cat") the restaurant owner who expects it all--convincing us to care for them anyway, at the end of the stories. I especially like the title, which at first seemed just a title. (Like the simple words she uses that sometimes seem just like words.) The last section of the last of Moss' stories signals all of us New Yorkers and former New Yorkers, that 9-11 stopped us all—as it stops and silences the Subway at Bryant Park—to maybe take a longer, considered look at the people around us.
I love this beautifully written collection of short stories. Characters lives intersect in Bryant Park in New York City but common theme is coming to terms with loneliness and loss. Beautifully written. Now I'd like to see Bryant Park! Especially loved the story "dad died" captured a lot of feelings. "Who knew when or if she'd ever see him again, and she come to learn that the moments that most make you want to run away were the ones you had to stay for. Proper goodbyes sometimes inoculated you against swarming clouds of regret"
A wonderful jewel box of a book: The Subway Stops at Bryant Park
This is a very elegant collection of short stories which when bundled together form a cohesive whole connected by Bryant Park. The stories reveal poignant and beautiful details in the lives of the main characters who are connected to the Park in different ways. It is a book to buy in hardback to read again and again.
Amazing, captivating stories. N. West Moss invites you into the lives of her characters with quiet insight and lovely sentences. Your view of the world is changed. A shaft of sunlight can illuminate the pattern of a rug you step on every morning. You see the light, the pattern and now you realize you've never noticed the details before and the rug is remarkable.
A lovely collection of stories about people who live, work, spend time in Bryant Park, everyone from a shy librarian who works at NYPL right next door to the park to a doorman who works at one of the apartment buildings nearby to one of the maintenance workers assigned to the park. Well worth a read.
A wonderful collection of short stories that center around Bryant Park...one of my favorite places in NYC. My book club is reading it and having a discussion night with the author which moved me to read it. I read it quickly....and wanted to keep reading each story. Some of the characters in the stories are known to me which made it more interesting.
Gorgeous short story collection -- even for those who aren't familiar with Bryant Park or NYC in general would love this beautiful writing. I loved what realistically flawed characters she created. I strongly recommend this!
"Oh, thank God the park was open. ... Thank God for this park, for all parks."
These are wonderful stories about place and about people. Wonderfully diverse, eloquently depicted people. Their stories are often simple and yet wondrous, other times complex and confused and nonetheless so very touching. By the end it is fun to wonder and then learn how they will come together; what role their common place will play in each piece. This made it difficult not to simply move right into the next after finishing each story, but their disparateness, an attest to Moss's narrative and descriptive skill, slows the reader down to enjoy each story for itself as well. A bit like alternating sweet fruit pie with sharp cheese. Charming, thoughtful, giving stories.