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The New York Stories

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Elizabeth Hardwick was one of America’s great postwar women of letters, celebrated as a novelist and as an essayist. Until now, however, her slim but remarkable achievement as a writer of short stories has remained largely hidden, with her work tucked away in the pages of the periodicals—such as Partisan Review, The New Yorker, and The New York Review of Books—in which it ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by NYRB Classics (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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Nov 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nyrb
I can't do it. I just can't. There are two stories left in The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, and I just can't make myself trudge through them. And 'trudge' is the operative word here—because even though I find many particular things in Hardwick's stories to admire in a purely analytic sense, divorced from all feeling—nothing compels me to return to these high-minded essay-fiction hybrids. But I really should have known better. I would speculate that the vast majority of books that blur ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
For me this collection divides along a line between story-driven episodes that unfold ideas & characters from a narrative, and pieces that dissolve these elements in a diffuse, intensely poetic, emotionally charged meandering. But perhaps I'm being overly convergent in seeing a line when I should detect a field of ambiguity and shade.

I often struggle with plotless writing but when I can feel a depth of glowing emotion as I can here I can appreciate. Hardwick conveys a moody, conflict-ridden yet
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
Mixed feelings about this one. Hardwick was a masterful stylist, every brushstroke in this little miniature is perfectly placed. And she captures that mid-century something that I love, that delicious feeling of opening up an old issue of the New Yorker and vanishing into a slightly shabby, more genteel New York of once upon a time that is so familiar from other stories and movies and yet so tantalizingly out of reach. Indeed, New York is the most constant character in these stories (and the sto ...more
I finished this, but only barely. Mostly because throughout the majority of The New York Stories there was simply not enough of what I expected - New York and stories, of both the city and its people.

The "stories" are largely plotless, and not very engaging - they are concerned with characters whom I found to be largely uninteresting, and who like to partake in discussion on subjects which scream "Big Themes" from a mile. To put it bluntly, this is a very easy book to put down and newer return t
Oct 06, 2011 added it
Shelves: nyrb-classics, 2010
♦ I've spent several days now with The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick , and it had to be slow-going, because she demanded I savor her. All the other books I'd planned on reading with her, gently replaced on the shelves. Hardwick wanted all of me, or nothing at all. I was all too happy to give her, well, all.

♦ As I read more and more of her, I knew I'd be saying, "Elizabeth Hardwick, where have you been all my life?" Seriously. Hardwick's one of the best discoveries in my travails thro
Possibly in Michigan, London
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Okay, it took me three tries to finish this book and I’m pretty sure starting with the last story and working my way backwards was *the key*.

Maybe relevantly, the last few stories date from the late 1970s, while the bulk is from the 1950s. According to this, she stopped writing for years after The Oak and the Axe, which the reviewer sees as a thinly veiled depiction of Hardwick’s difficult relationship with Robert Lowell. The story is, like most of the e
Sep 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Well, these are hit-or-miss. I believe Hardwick was primarily known for essays, which I have never read, so perhaps this just isn't her preferred writing format. She does fairly well with developing characters, but then you get to the end of each story and realize nothing more has happened. Many lack not only what might be called a plot, but any action whatsoever, and are more like character sketches. The later stories are particularly dull, and many are just the stereotypical "an ordinary day i ...more
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
These stories felt generally uninspiring to me. "Evenings at Home" was great, delving into the psychology of someone who has built ramparts around their newly constructed self-identity as someone who has written out of the cultural poverty of the South only to find that such elaborate defenses were unnecessary. But most of the stories involve characters who don't do or experience anything particularly interesting. There are academics who don't like each other, painters don't like each other, peo ...more
David Marchese
Sep 04, 2010 rated it liked it
New Yorkers with post-graduate degrees talk movingly about their feelings, often in a frustratingly causal and didactic fashion.
Debbie Robson
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In hindsight it was probably unrealistic of me to expect to find the down at heel New York that is glimpsed so provocatively in Hardwick’s wonderful Sleepless Nights. I was even initially miffed to find that four of the 12 stories aren’t even set in New York. Nevertheless I’m glad I read the collection as it really gives an insight into the development of Hardwick as a writer.
The first story in the collection (arranged chronologically) is The Temptations of Dr Hoffman written in 1946. This story
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
I'll admit, I did lightly skim over some stories. I definitely enjoyed some more than others. ...more
Don Flynn
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The early stories here are conventional, drunk on extraneous words, as many writers were back then. Hardwick keeps it interesting through her characters though. In a story called "The Purchase," about an older, successful painter's competition with a young upstart, the older painter is first repulsed by the young painter's wife, then unreasonably infatuated with her. Hardwick paints such a vivid picture of the woman that I began to have feelings for her myself. The older painter's sudden attract ...more
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
A few of these stories are memorable (thus 3 stars), but generally a disappointment. It didn't help that I read this just after Mavis Gallant's Paris Stories, which I loved. Hardwick's stories are uncomfortable, and some are tiring, but a few--notably "Back Issues," "The Purchase," and "Evenings at Home" stand out for me. ...more
Lonnie Brown
May 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Her prose are deeply intellectual and her characters are complex. Her style of writing is probably impossible to imitate but there is a flow that resembles abstract artwork. The narrative seems to be concerned with who is observing and how that individual feels about the plot and characters; she forces readers to see what she sees. Overall, I enjoyed the stories. The Purchase, The Classles Society, Shot: A New York Story, and The Final Conflict were my top choices.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Elizabeth Hardwick in a way that will probably feel embarrassing to me in a few years. There's just something about her writing that feels deeply ... relatable, maybe? for me. Like the narrator of Yes and No, she's not likeable but she's immediately understandable to me. I like whingey overly detailed plotless stories about women who aren't as good as they think they are but still think they're better than everyone else. So this is almost perfect. ...more
Tom Buchanan
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a bizarre book. The first two thirds, maybe even three quarters of this book I could not get down with at all. Then all of a sudden it jumps to stories written a decade or two later and they're incredible. Like Renata Adler meets Leornard Michaels good. It feels weird giving a book a glowing recommendation but also recommending you ignore everything before pg. 156. I dunno. ...more
Jul 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
not as brilliant as SLEEPLESS NIGHTs, but a nice collection of character studies about people and NYC. the style shifts from studied to the essayistic fiction of SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, and always with restraint and intelligence.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
In which people think they have more Great Potential then they probably actually do, but are still terrified of settling. Highlights include A Season's Romance, Evening's at Home, and Shot: A New York Story. ...more
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-carved, thoughtful prose with the storytelling power to create deep interest in a very quiet scene with very ordinary characters. A book to dip in and out of.
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
These stories are more character sketches, not short stories. They are interesting, but not engaging.
Jul 05, 2016 rated it liked it
The first four stories (the earliest written) are excellent, the others are tedious Manhattan cosmopolitan stuff.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favourite lines

"And the wives - completely stunned by the marvelous possession of these blithe, busy husbands." p.25

"He knows, he knows, I decided. Men can sense these things. Let me die now." p.27

"His silvery eyes, light and cool, revealing nothing except pure possibility, like a coin in the hand." p.35

"In New York, Matt was possible. His soul had some of the gritty grandeur of the city itself..." p.75

"[He] filled her with a baffled and yet determined love." p.85

"Each day the rooms were brighte
Vel Veeter
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read Elizabeth Hardwick’s collected essays earlier this year. I also read her novel Sleepless Nights last year. This is a collection of stories that encompasses about 45-50 years worth of short stories edited and selected by Darryl Pinckney, another novelist and critic who also famously worked with and was friends with Hardwick.

I read these stories in a variety of orders, and since they are not part of an intentional collection this blending and mixing up of the stories led to a relatively sat
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
It feels a little like sacrilege to write this about one of the co-founders of The New York Review of Books, but I didn't connect to her short stories very much. Part of this might have to do with the fact that I've been reading a handful of collections at once, and other authors have more distinctive voices for their characters. Hardwick, it appears to me, is more of a themes writer. I'd probably enjoy her longer form more, where her stories might have room to breathe.

Two in particular stuck ou
I found this collection of stories hard going to begin with - impenetrable and un-enjoyable. Then, abruptly, her style changes quite significantly and her later stories began to be much more experimental and interesting. I particularly loved Evenings at Home, about the dislocating feeling of meeting and not recognising a former self, or loved place, and The Purchase, about a sordid affair between a painter and his rival's wife. I will definitely revisit Hardwick - her prose is clear as glass, li ...more
Bob Peru
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
the great stories were great.
the clunkers really clunked.
the clunkers outnumbered the great ones.
Suzanne Senay
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
New York across decades. Perfect syntax, but no perfect life. Many shades of failure, social slippage, moral tangle.
Ian Laird
Because Elizabeth Hardwick is held in the highest esteem by her New York Review of Books colleagues and the literati more generally, with good cause as her many reviews show, it is somewhat disheartening to express disappointment at her short fiction collected in this volume.

Perhaps the stories are too passive for my taste, or maybe they have not stood the test of time. The stories span nearly five decades from 1946 to 1993. They are peopled with artists and writers, academics and bookshop peop
Jan 22, 2012 rated it liked it
The first few stories pulled me in immediately. I can't seem to get through the second half. ...more
Sep 12, 2014 marked it as to-read
Shelves: short-stories, own
[Note to self: when you pick this book back up, start with The Classless Society on page 101.]
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Elizabeth Hardwick was an American literary critic, novelist, and short story writer.

Hardwick graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1939. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947. She was the author of three novels: The Ghostly Lover (1945), The Simple Truth (1955), and Sleepless Nights (1979). A collection of her short fiction, The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, will be pub

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