Here is New York

by E. B. White

Other authorsRoger Angell (Introduction)
Hardcover, 1999

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Little Bookroom, c1999.

Description

Perceptive, funny, and nostalgic, E.B. White's stroll around Manhattan remains the quintessential love letter to the city, written by one of America's foremost literary figures. The New York Times has named Here is New York one of the ten best books ever written about the metropolis, and The New Yorker calls it "the wittiest essay, and one of the most perceptive, ever done on the city.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bookworm12
I read this in the week leading up to my first trip to New York City last year. I loved it, then I visited the city and I loved the book even more. It's amazing to me that someone could so perfectly capture the magic of that city and write about it in a way that still rings true 60 years later.

The author, famous for his children's books, Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web, was living in the city in 1948 when he wrote the slim book. White understood that despite being filled with people, NYC can be a lonely place. It gives its inhabitants privacy and anonymity in the midst of its bustling streets. It somehow allows you to feel connected and disconnected at the same time.

I love how White talks about both the city as a whole and the diverse neighborhoods that make up the city. He saw the beauty of the pockets of familiarity within the intimidating beast. He embraced the paradoxes within New York, parks and pavement, rich and poor.

The essay is a glowing love letter to the city of New York, but there are elements that ring true for any city. The attachment a person can feel for a place, the unique personality a city has, etc. Pick it up before your next trek to the Big Apple or really anytime.
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LibraryThing member madamepince
An amazing reflection on New York by a former citizen; an essay about the reasons why those of us yearn towards the city and why we eventually leave. Even more amazingly, in 1949 White writes of the city's vulnerability to attack by planes that foreshadows 9-11. As someone who lived in New York for 16 years and returned only once for a visit, White captures the longing for the New York we experienced when we arrived fresh and hopeful and the sadness upon realizing it can't be recaptured any more than our youth.… (more)
LibraryThing member Y2Ash
E.B. White paints the perfect picture of New York City. Akin to Kerouac did describing the Beat Community in the 1950's in On the Road, I felt the nostalgia for times I was never a part of. There was a quiet wistfulness in his prose. There was one paragraph where White talks about New York's destructibility that was prophetic, creepily so.

I loved it. My only complaint was the length. It was far too short. It only contributes to dream like quality.
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LibraryThing member edwinbcn
Essays of E.B. White is a collection of 31 essays by E.B. White, written over a life-time. The earliest essays date from 1939, while the most recent was written in 1975. Most essays were written during the 1950s. This Chinese bilingual edition is published in two hardcover volumes: Here is New York. Essays, Vol. 1 and Once more to the lake. Essays, Vol. 2. The content of the two volumes is identical to that of the single-volume edition of Essays of E.B. White.

The essays in this collection are beautifully written, and transport the reader to a world which no longer exists, but is often still longed for by the older generation, as well as a younger generation that is weary of the world of unsustainable economic growth. In fact, it was during E.B. White's life time that that lifestyle started to disappear. The essays, particularly those grouped together under the title "The Farm",as there are "Home-coming", "Death of a Pig", "Coon Tree" and "The Geese" look back towards a lifestyle of living on the land, which could still be found aplenty in the 1950s, although it was already on the wane. More essays that evoke a feeling of nostalgia are those grouped under the title "Memories", including essays such as "Afternoon of an American Boy", "The Years of Wonder" and "Once More to the Lake". They describe White's memories of closeness to nature experienced during the 1940s and 1950s.

Throughout the collection there is concern for the disappearance of the lifestyle of living on the land. E.B. White seems to have been strongly aware of the threats to that lifestyle. White includes an endearing portrait of the city of New York in "Here is New York" but it is grouped together with the essay "The World of Tomorrow", the oldest essay in the collection, from 1939, under the title "The City". The overall impression must lead to the conclusion that for all its apparent greatness, E.B. White resents life in the city, which alienates people from each other.

A number of essays show the author to fear the ultimate destruction, not just of the traditional lifestyle, but of the entire planet. Fear of nuclear war permeates "Sootfall and Fallout" written in 1956, "Unity" about disarmament, written in 1960, and "Letter from the East" written in 1975, grouped under the title of "The Planet".

There are also essays about literature, and about White collaboration with William Strunk Jr. on a new edition of The Elements of Style.

The style of the essays is dated. Spanning 40 years, and mainly written during the 1950s, the essays are written in a style that precedes their conception, as if they do not just refer to the lifestyle of the past, but also to a writing style of that past era. The tone of almost all essays is nostalgia and melancholy. They bear out a happiness experiences in the past and worry when looking at the future.

E.B. White is aminly known as an author of children's books and other light-hearted works, such as poetry and humour together with James Thurber. It is perhaps fitting that he collected his more sombre and personal ideas in his essays.

A likely contender for a classic originating from the 1950s.
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LibraryThing member Faradaydon
Brief, but breathtakingly brilliant
LibraryThing member Y2Ash
E.B. White paints the perfect picture of New York City. Akin to Kerouac did describing the Beat Community in the 1950's in On the Road, I felt the nostalgia for times I was never a part of. There was a quiet wistfulness in his prose. There was one paragraph where White talks about New York's destructibility that was prophetic, creepily so.

I loved it. My only complaint was the length. It was far too short. It only contributes to dream like quality.
… (more)
LibraryThing member MinaIsham
-- This slim book is a classic. It can be read in one sitting. --
LibraryThing member eachurch
E.B. White writing about New York at the end of the 1940s; what could be better? The last few pages are absolutely chilling.
LibraryThing member alanteder
Lovely Nostalgic Essay with a Chilling Closing
Review of the Audible Audio edition (2016) of the original essay Here Is New York (1948 Holiday magazine/1949 hardcover) including a 1999 Introduction by Roger Angell

This is primarily a lovely quaint memoir of how New York City was changing in the late 1940s compared to when essayist E.B. White first came to work in the city in the 1920s. You wonder about how he would feel about it in the 2000s if it already seemed chaotic in those years. That all changes towards the end (about 5 minutes before the end in the audio version) when he speculates (in 1948, World War II would have still been a very recent memory) about how "the city...is destructible", "a single flight of planes... can end this island fantasy, burn the towers", and "in the mind of whatever perverted dreamer, might loose the lightning."

The narration by Malcolm Hillgartner was excellent.
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LibraryThing member MartinBodek
Exquisite, nearly all-encompassing, vibrant, and truthful.
LibraryThing member Y2Ash
E.B. White paints the perfect picture of New York City. Akin to Kerouac did describing the Beat Community in the 1950's in On the Road, I felt the nostalgia for times I was never a part of. There was a quiet wistfulness in his prose. There was one paragraph where White talks about New York's destructibility that was prophetic, creepily so.

I loved it. My only complaint was the length. It was far too short. It only contributes to dream like quality.
… (more)

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