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Old Mr. Flood

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  110 ratings  ·  18 reviews
One of the best chroniclers of New York, Joseph Mitchell, a transplanted North Carolinian wrote for The New Yorker from the late '30s through the early '60s. Mitchell specialized in people and institutions at the margins of society. Old Mr. Flood is about retired house wrecker Hugh G. Flood who plans to live to 115 years old on a diet of fresh seafood, harbor air and the o ...more
Paperback, 122 pages
Published April 22nd 2005 by MacAdam/Cage Publishing (first published 1948)
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Erin Boyington
Old Mr. Flood is determined to live to 115 on his steady diet of whiskey, oysters, and good stories in these wonderfulNew Yorkerpieces.

This book makes me so sad that the only "oysters" near me are the Rocky Mountain kind(and yes, I've tried them - deep-fried). When I lived in Seattle, a few friends and I made a day trip to Quilcene to go oyster hunting. I had never eaten an oyster before, and was unsure I would enjoy the taste or the texture. Raw shellfish? What? But being a fan of sushi (shout-
...more
James
This is a short, simple account of the staunchly independent and seafood-obsessed Mr. Flood, an elderly bachelor who is determined to live to be 115 and thinks he knows just how to do it. It’s also a wonderful sketch of life in lower Manhattan during the 1930s-1940s. The writing is crystal clear and smooth, making the simplicity of Hemingway’s work look like James Joyce, and to be honest, Mitchell has none of Hemingway’s egoisms or his choppy style (I like most of Hemingway, but admit it, the gu ...more
Jim
Why have I not read everything that Joseph Mitchell ever wrote? When I read The Bottom of the Harbor a number of years ago, I was enthralled by Mitchell's brand of journalism-as-literature. Today, I found a copy of Old Mr. Flood being remaindered. I not only snapped it up, but roared through it in a single sitting.

Both books I have mentioned deal primarily with the world of New York Harbor, comprising the boatmen, buyers and sellers of fish, and anyone else even remotely connected with the getti
...more
Tyler
"When I was a boy on State Island, hens ate grit and grasshoppers and scraps from the table and whatever else they could scratch out of the ground, and a platter of scrambled eggs was a delight."

"...and one was a captain of a seiner in the old Long Island Sound gurry-fleet that caught moss-bunkers for fertilizer factories."

"'I've got a pig toe, a pistol grip, a heel splitter, a warty back, a maple leaf, a monkey face, a rose bud, a rabbit's foot, and a butterfly,' he says with pride. 'I had a wa
...more
Andrea Engle
Collection of three spirited, atmospheric short stories by a fabled, "New Yorker" writer ... feisty, ninety-plus Mr. Flood dominates these reminiscences of 1940s New York, particularly the area around the Fulton Fish Market ... an interesting exploration of what it means to be old ...
Gobnait
This book is written in the typical Mitchell style. It's a brilliant and insightful glimpse into the life of old Mr. Flood and happenings around New York City's Fulton's Fish Market. It is a real page turner that I didn't want to put it down.
Adam
Crank, codger, salty old coot? Sure, Mr. Flood is all of that, but he’s also 100% original American (from that time when we had originals, before television, political correctness, and wireless techno-selves). Even in his mid 90s he speaks his mind without hesitation, drinks his liquor straight, and has a good 10,000 stories on tap to amuse and educate--and even if he’s told you most of them before, it won’t stop him from doing so again. Yes, it’s homo americanas: tough, crass, filled with bizar ...more
Reacher
Mitchell has a very different writing style than you see in fiction today. Use of short, clear, simple sentences with an active voice. Hyper descriptive, short on metaphors. This is a mesmerizing story, and one that will energize you next time you're feeling old or sorry for yourself. It also touched off my fascination with eating raw oysters (that's where I can be found most Friday evenings now, at one of the many $1 raw bars here in Boston, with a lemon wedge in my hand and a smile on my face) ...more
patty
This book isn't about one Mr. Flood - it's about several characters working at or hanging out at the Fulton Fish Market along the East River in Manhattan in the early part of the twentieth century. Serious fishermen along the East Coast would love this book. Apparently "industry" started to take out these prime oyster and clam beds over 100 years ago. Destruction of wildlife by pollution comes up several times in the book. What would these characters think today?
Brisbride13
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ed O'farrell
Joseph Mitchell is one of my favorite writers. He is incapable of penning a bad sentence, let alone a bad story. The title says it all... this is a book about a real-life character of the New York streets. The story is told with compassion, dignity, humor and should be a must read for any student of writing. A good read, well worth the money.
Shacey Petrovic
i wish i could rate this book a 3.5. it is a solid b+. i loved mitchell's restraint- he manages, with plain declarative sentences, to render authentic characters and a vivid world - all without much fanfare. so far so good...but outside of a character study, it doesn't amount to much more. it was enough for me.
Jack Fischer
His colleague A.J. Liebling may be better known, Mitchell wrote accounts of low-life and everyday life New York City in the 1940s that are like nothing else. Mr Flood, actually a composite of a number of denizens of Fulton Fish Market, brilliantly resurrects a world long gone. Funny, too.
Robert
Three thematic magazine pieces presented in a slim volume. This is the only acknowledged fiction ever published by the reporter Joseph Mitchell, and in his introduction to the work Mitchell codifies Stephen Colbert's concept of truthiness half a century early.
Peter
A charming, delightful and marvelous evocation of a vanished place and time. I posted some more thoughts and a couple of great excerpts over at my blog.
Bro_Pair أعرف
Fun, Mitchell's a lovely writer. A New York that has entirely disappeared. Reading this, it occurs to me it'd be suitable for a 10-13 year-old boy, I would've loved this book back then
Alice
I CANNOT CONCEIVE OF A SITUATION WHERE I WOULD GIVE THIS FEWER STARS.
Michael Andersen-Andrade
Old Mr. Flood is a charming and nostalgic view of a New York City that no longer exists except in distant memories.
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Joseph Mitchell was an American writer who wrote for The New Yorker. He is known for his carefully written portraits of eccentrics and people on the fringes of society, especially in and around New York City.
-Wikipedia
More about Joseph Mitchell...
Up in the Old Hotel Joe Gould's Secret McSorley's Wonderful Saloon My Ears Are Bent The Bottom Of The Harbor

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“I’m not going to stand for it any longer," said Mr. Flood. "I’m going to put my foot down. All I want in this world is a little peace and quiet, and he gets me all raced up. Here a while back I heard a preacher talking on the radio about the peacefulness of the old, and I thought to myself, ‘You ignorant man!’ I’m ninety-four years old and I have never yet had any peace, to speak of. My mind is just a turmoil of regrets. It’s not what I did that I regret, it’s what I didn’t do. Except for the bottle, I always walked the straight and narrow; a family man, a good provider, never cut up, never did ugly, and I regret it. In the summer of 1902 I came real close to getting in serious trouble with a married woman, but I had a fight with my conscience and my conscience won, and what’s the result? I had two wives, good, Christian women, and I can’t hardly remember what either of them looked like, but I can remember the face on that woman so clear it hurts, and there’s never a day passes I don’t think about her, and there’s never a day passes I don’t curse myself. ‘What kind of a timid, dried-up, weevily fellow were you?’ I say to myself. ‘You should’ve said to hell with what’s right and what’s wrong, the devil take the hindmost. You’d have something to remember, you’d be happier now.’ She’s out in Woodlawn, six feet under, and she’s been there twenty-two years, God rest her, and here I am, just an old, old man with nothing but a belly and a brain and a dollar or two."

"Life is sad," said Mr. Maggiani.”
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“I’m immune to the average germ; don’t even catch colds; haven’t had a cold since 1912. Only reason I caught that one, I went on a toot and it was a pouring-down rainy night in the dead of winter and my shoes were cracked and they let the damp in and I lost my balance a time or two and sloshed around in the gutter and somewhere along the line I mislaid my hat and I’d just had a haircut and I stood in a draft in one saloon an hour or more and there was a poor fellow next to me sneezing his head off and when I got home I crawled into a bed that was beside an open window like a fool and passed out with my wet clothes on, shoes and all. Also, I’d spent the night before sitting up on a train and hadn’t slept a wink and my resistance was low. If the good Lord can just see His way clear to protect me from accidents, no stumbling on the stairs, no hell-fired automobiles bearing down on me in the dark, no broken bones, I’ll hit a hundred and fifteen easy.” 0 likes
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