Book Review: Gone to New York: Adventures in the City by Ian Frazier

Gone to New York: Adventures in the City
by Ian Frazier

Publication date: January 1st 2013 (first published 2005)
Publisher: Granta Books
Pages: 203

In the early 1970s, Ian Frazier left a small town in Ohio to move to a loft in lower Manhattan. This is his account of the city over the years he’s lived there, a book full of vitality and charms as the city it describes.

Source: Goodreads


I took this book with me to New York last week. I’d hoped to have read it on the plane back, but on a delayed flight back over night sleep took priority.

One week later I’ve finished it and I’m actually glad I didn’t get round to starting it on the plane as I think it probably would have sent me to sleep anyway!

“Gone to New York: Adventures in the City” is a collection of essays set in NYC throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. The themes range from stories of the author’s neighbours to chatting about plastic bags in caught in trees. One of the essays is a list of comments copied from a museum’s visitors book – I’m not sure why anyone would want to read that!

Full of statistics and facts (did you know that the South Pole is 2,955 miles from Manhatten?), these essays didn’t interest me and often covered topics that I can’t really believe would be of interest to anyone. I didn’t feel like I learned anything about New York itself and feel that with only very minor changes to the street names, this whole book could be set in any other large city.

Yet despite all I’ve just said, the quote on the front cover claims this book is hilarious, so maybe I’m just completely alone on this one..

Overall rating: I loved New York but the same can be said for “Gone to New York”. The facts and figures can’t rescue a boring topic. After the first try I just didn’t want to pick this up on my morning commute for the rest of the week but powered through. I’m giving Ian Frazier‘s essays just 1 star.

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