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The Odd Woman and the City : A Memoir
by Vivian Gornick


Overview -

A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Autobiography

A contentious, deeply moving ode to friendship, love, and urban life in the spirit of "Fierce Attachments"

A memoir of self-discovery and the dilemma of connection in our time, "The Odd Woman and the City" explores the rhythms, chance encounters, and ever-changing friendships of urban life that forge the sensibility of a fiercely independent woman who has lived out her conflicts, not her fantasies, in a city (New York) that has done the same.  Read more...


 
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More About The Odd Woman and the City by Vivian Gornick
 
 
 
Overview

A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Autobiography

A contentious, deeply moving ode to friendship, love, and urban life in the spirit of "Fierce Attachments"

A memoir of self-discovery and the dilemma of connection in our time, "The Odd Woman and the City" explores the rhythms, chance encounters, and ever-changing friendships of urban life that forge the sensibility of a fiercely independent woman who has lived out her conflicts, not her fantasies, in a city (New York) that has done the same. Running steadily through the book is Vivian Gornick's exchange of more than twenty years with Leonard, a gay man who is sophisticated about his own unhappiness, whose friendship has "shed more light on the mysterious nature of ordinary human relations than has any other intimacy" she has known. The exchange between Gornick and Leonard acts as a Greek chorus to the main action of the narrator's continual engagement on the street with grocers, derelicts, and doormen; people on the bus, cross-dressers on the corner, and acquaintances by the handful. In Leonard she sees herself reflected plain; out on the street she makes sense of what she sees.
Written as a narrative collage that includes meditative pieces on the making of a modern feminist, the role of the "flaneur "in urban literature, and the evolution of friendship over the past two centuries, "The Odd Woman and the City "beautifully bookends Gornick's acclaimed "Fierce Attachments," in which we first encountered her rich relationship with the ultimate metropolis.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780374298609
  • ISBN-10: 0374298602
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publish Date: May 2015
  • Page Count: 192
  • Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.5 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Women

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-04-13
  • Reviewer: Staff

Gornick, a discerning and sharp-tongued literary critic (The Men in My Life), writes of her lifelong love affair with her native New York City. Gornick, who was born in the Bronx, introduces her prickly friend Leonard, a perpetually disgruntled gay man about her own age who shares with her “a penchant for the negative,” and employs him as a “mirror image witness” to her melancholy, solitary nature. Compulsively judgmental of friends and family (including her aged mother, who was the focus of her Fierce Attachments), Gornick delights above all in reporting snatches of dialogue and startling encounters that reveal a human expressiveness. Such raw moments include a conversation with her 90-year-old neighbor, Vera, who bemoans the sexual ineptitude of the men of her generation, and a lively exchange of sign language on the subway between a father and his disabled son. Gornick is admittedly lonely and sometimes befuddled by her feminist ideals, questioning her youthful belief that solitude was preferable to romantic love without equality. Gornick returns to many of the writers whose own quirks and grievances have obsessed her (Seymour Krim, Henry James, Evelyn Scott, and George Gissing, whose novel The Odd Women gave Gornick her own book title) and finds their voices reassuring and full of nuance, need, and the pain of intimacy—much like the voices of the city she craves. (May)

 
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