New York City has a reputation for glamor and excitement, but for the overwhelming majority of its eight million inhabitants everyday life is a very different matter. For them life in “America’s greatest city” is a life of exhausting bustle, disgusting filth, and constant, befouling exposure to the most degraded, ubiquitous, and therefore inescapable vulgarity. In these seventeen short stories the lives of average New Yorkers, from the hopeless office clerk to the struggling artist, from the retired senior citizen to the newly arrived immigrant, from the worriedly unemployed to the unconsciously wealthy, are depicted with a fresh, rare honesty. The much-vaunted “culture” of the city is shown to be what it often is: a veneer beneath which a snapping, feral barbarousness is ever on the verge of breaking out, and sometimes doing so.
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