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Metropolitan Stories

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  235 ratings  ·  55 reviews
"Only someone who deeply loves and understands the Metropolitan Museum could deliver such madcap, funny, magical, tender, intimate fables and stories." --Maira Kalman, artist and bestselling author of The Principles of Uncertainty

From a writer who worked at the Metropolitan Museum for more than twenty-five years, an enchanting novel that shows us the Met that the
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Other Press (NY)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  235 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lor-2019
3.5 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a place I wld love to visit but doubt it will ever happen. It ks the setting though of some very original stories or related episodes. In these stories the museum comes alive, literally. The first episode concerns a chair made in the mid 1700's, a chair that was the favorite another for a you g princess. Oh, how it longs to be sat on once again.

Then the director of the museum needs a muse, because a renown fashion designer is meeting with him and stated he was
Cheryl Kennedy
Did you know? The tunnels of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is a hive of lifeless tunnels. The ceilings run the length of the museum with pipes and electrical wiring. "I didn't see another soul when I was down there. I only heard the buzzing of the fluorescAent lights above me. There were statues looking upward as if longing to return to the galleries. I shared their desire as I sank deeper into the cluttered passageways---at once constricting and vast."

The death of an overnight custodian
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A wonderful love letter to the Met, if not all art museums. More a series of loosely interconnected short stories than a traditional novel, some are stronger than others but together create a beautiful whole. Coulson’s love of the Met and her way with words makes for a strong foundation, as does her use of what I can only term magical realism. Metropolitan Stories makes for a powerful, if unknowing, argument about the importance of culture and its preservation. Highly recommended.
Julie Failla Earhart
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m not a huge television watcher, but I do enjoy watching the behind-the-scenes shows at zoos. Watchers get to take a peek behind the curtain at what it takes to care for the thousands of animals in their care. Fascinating stuff.

I feel the same way about Christine Coulson’s new novel, “Metropolitian Stories.” From a writer who worked at that renown institution for more than 25 years, reads are taken through to the offices, the storage rooms, the cafeteria and what seems to a million-mile
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, gem of a book. Each chapter is a story in itself, but lightly connected to others so that the sum is greater than the parts. There's a beautiful humanity here: The art is taking care of the caregivers, just as they put their lives and heart into the art. And the two groups - the art and the many departments of the met devoted to their care - become a family together. A beautiful read during such a fractious time.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I am a great admirer of the Met, but have only visited twice -- not nearly enough times to truly appreciate this collection of short stories. Most certainly I have a greater admiration for this great museum after finishing this book and along with that greater knowledge of the collection and its history. This would make a great Christmas gift for a regular visitor to the Met.

Thank you to Other Press and to Edelweiss for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A friend told me about an interview on NPR with Coulson because she knows I love ekphrastic poetry (poetry about art). I’m also in an ekphrastic book club, so we chose this book as our next selection. I can’t see why the cover calls it a novel. It is short stories united by theme: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I expected most of the stories to be like “Chair as Hero,” in which an 18th c. chair, proud to still have its original upholstery, looks back on her life, watches visitors, and wishes a ...more
Uneven collection of short stories about the Metropolitan Museum of Art: its personnel, some of its art works, patrons. Some I liked better than others. The author worked there for many years; I could feel her love for it shine through. Some stories included fantasy, involving a ghost or two.
My favorites:
"Adam": a statue of Adam and how he tries to help a guard, with devastating results to the statue.
"Lost": Melvin, a man who has been laid off and wants to give the impression to his doorman he
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I may have loved this so much because I worked at the Met for 6 years (2 of them in Development with Chris) but it really is a magical book about a magical place. Beautiful writing, clever tales — an artful book (pun intended). She brings the museum, its people and objects to life in a truly memorable way. And I’m pretty sure I recognized some thinly disguised characters ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I am about 1 hour away from the end of METROPOLITAN STORIES (Christine Coulson) and have such mixed feelings about it. I am listening and reading. I frequently find my mind wondering (both while listening and reading, but more when listening). Yet I also sometimes find myself smiling warmly.

The book is compiled of short stories loosely tied together by where they take place and the characters. The stories all take place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The characters are people who work there
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
If I still bought any/all of the books that captured my attention in their physical manifestation, I would own a copy of this lovely and fantastical little tome. I had a lot of fun reading this one, it has elements of fantasy and autobiography and journalism and chummy personal tattling. Anyone who has worked anywhere can relate, somehow, to the quasi-political and semi-gossipy tales herein. There is a character study-ish nature to some of the chapters, and they are offset with magical ...more
John Pehle
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Christine Coulson has written a wonderful book in "Metropolitan Stories". With some books, you are ready for the end, with others, you miss the characters after the story ends, and with a very few, you hate to see the book end at all. This collection of stories about the "Met" fell into the final category. Although the stories do not form a complete narrative, the are basted together by some charming recurring characters and circular references to specific pieces from the Met's collection. Some ...more
Kaycie Hall
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finished in one morning—lovely and made me want to spend more time at the Met
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Not really a novel, but stories with connected with the Met. Some were just great; many, while amusing, relied too heavily on anthropomorphizing the art. Once was enough. Coulson's writing is winning and smart and I will look for her next book.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Metropolitan Stories takes place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The tales are centered around the art on display and mostly the people who make the art possible for the viewing public. Some of the stories are linked through characters or the artwork. Many are poignant, comical and mysterious. Three of my favorite titles include:
Chair as Hero, here an antique chair recalls its former glory as a young child rushes towards the display.
Meats and Cheese tells about a young intern who sees
Rhiannon Johnson
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
[I received a copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review]

Do you dream of being locked in a bookstore or museum overnight? Did you love the movie Night at the Museum? If so, you'll love Christine Coulson's inventive and funny collection, Metropolitan Stories (releasing 10/8/19). Not only does she take readers behind the scenes and down the mazes of hallways, and through the storerooms of the Metropolitan Museum (she worked at the museum for twenty-five years) but she
Kim McGee
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A love letter to the artwork, staff, and benefactors of the incredible Metropolitan Museum of Art. Christine Coulson shares a bit of the secret life of the museum that she was privy to while she worked there but the stories are told in a fanciful way. We learn of the chair that longs for the touch of a young child even a wayward toddler, the guard and the statue who loves him and the incredible Mezz Girls who work the events as well as the people who keep the show on the road. A bit of whimsy ...more
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm putting this in the speculative fiction category but it's more magical realism than SF or Fantasy. The stories about artworks that are sentient, or tunnels that lead to 1920s excavations, or the various people who work for the Metropolitan Museum of Art are only tied together by the setting. That's not a bad thing because the breadth of the Met's collections give the author a lot to work with. Three stars because some stories worked better than others.

eARC provided by publisher.
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A truly magical book, this is a collection of interwoven stories centered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This feels like a cross between The Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler and the Night at the Museum. The stories are filled with magical realism, but because of the setting they read as incredibly plausible. A brilliant story, and a must read for the fall!
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
This subject matter sounded right up my alley but I didn't end up loving this. The author should have expanded on the last story as a novel and left the rest of the stories go. The final short story has Da Vinci Code vibes and could have been a thrilling tale of missing artwork but it was 10 pages long and too short to be intriguing. I didn't love the fantastical elements (ghosts, time travel, etc) because they didn't add anything to the stories. I think the stories could have been an ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While reading Metropolitan Stories, by Christine Coulson, I realized two things I never really acknowledged before. First, I don't love short stories. I need a plot greater than what can be encompassed in a short story, and quite similarly, I need more in-depth character development. Second, I am too much of a realist to truly appreciate the imagination that can infuse speech, emotion, and movement into inanimate objects. I am an inappropriate reader for a book of short stories in which art ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
All of the linked stories in Christine Coulson’s Metropolitan Stories are set at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring various members of staff…and some of the art works themselves. The stories together build up a portrait of a magical place, one where entities (for lack of a better word) meditate on beauty, the passage of time, ambition, possession, and more...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss, for
Jim Hart
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How to describe this book... well, it’s a unique idea. It’s unpredictable. No, surprising is a better word. It’s a series of charming, short stories set within the Met. Tiny stories, each very different. Fantastical, as the back cover says. We see the art in a new way and we see the inner workings of a great museum. We see perspective, these objects were there, as the author says. And we see each of us, probably in a new way for each of us. No, don’t expect to see the great narrative of life. It ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Metropolitain Museum of Art in NYC is the setting for Metropolitan Stories: A Novel and after working there for twenty five years, Christine Coulson knows every underground tunnel and upstairs corridor. She is familiar with the staff cafeteria gossip. She knows the curators, the guards, the wealthy donors, the lampers and the fundraisers. The result is this slim collection of wonderfully imaginative essays and fables about the Met where in some cases the art itself is personified. It’s so ...more
Eileen Kennedy
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a unique way to pay tribute to my favorite museum! What at first appears to be a collection of short stories is actually a novel of woven threads, celebrating the components of an art institution. It celebrates the donors, the curators, the staff, the supporters and the pieces themselves, both master and minor. Each plays a significant role in preserving the beauty and purpose of the Metropolitan. Christine Coulson’s approach has given me a fresh appreciation of museums by encouraging me to ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a quirky look behind the veil of operations at the Met. Part „Night at the Museum“, part „How Stuff Works“, many of the stories fail to get off of the ground; however, there is some protein as evidenced specifically by the metaphor and arc in the tale of Melvin. The book does benefit from recurring characters, and is clearly a labor of love.
Dec 13, 2019 added it
A surreal journey through the heart of the Metropolitan Museum written by a true insider. This is a novel told in interconnected short stories with varied perspectives (including pieces of art, staff, and visitors.) There were some perfect sentences in this book and I loved this way of looking at one of my favorite places to visit in NYC. I can't wait to go back and think of this book.
Janna Wachter
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Upon waking this morning, I wished I was still reading it. I missed the engaging characters, their thoughts, their world. Five stars is a lot, but Coulson knows how to write a story. Funny, tender and poignant in turns is hard to do. She nailed it.
Her first story is almost like a prologue, bringing the reader into a different reality in an easy comfortable way that felt natural to me.
Grace Hoffmann
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
whimsical but polished short stories about the Metropolitan museum which link together in a very satisfying way. Both fun and thought provoking and demonstrating the writer's great love of and knowledge of the museum. Lovely little book and a lovely gift.
Gary Lee
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Educational for someone with no formal art background! RECOMMEND!

Very different and I learned about art museums’ worlds from an insider! Interesting how one learns the inside thoughts from the works of art!
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