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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
by Kathleen Rooney


Overview -

Fall 2016 Library Journal Editors' Pick

In my reckless and undiscouraged youth, Lillian Boxfish writes, I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street

She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H.  Read more...


 
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More About Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
 
 
 
Overview

Fall 2016 Library Journal Editors' Pick

In my reckless and undiscouraged youth, Lillian Boxfish writes, I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street

She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy s to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it.

Now it s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed and has not.

A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

Lillian figures she might as well take her time. For now, after all, the night is still young.

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Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781250113320
  • ISBN-10: 1250113326
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publish Date: January 2017
  • Page Count: 304


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Contemporary Women

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-10-17
  • Reviewer: Staff

Inspired by Margaret Fishback, poet and Macys ad-writing phenom of the 1930s, Rooney imagines an extraordinary walk through the streets of New York City on the last night of 1984, one that triggers a flood of memories for fictional ad woman Lillian Boxfish. The octogenarian muses on the changing urban landscape as she stops at favorite haunts: an intimate neighborhood bar thats just installed a TV, a restaurant where shes dined every New Years Eve thats about to change owners, the famed Delmonicos, where she ended her marriage. Further stops include a changing lower Manhattan landscape where she meets a haunted Vietnam veteran and engages him in a best last-line contest, a detour to a hospital emergency room with a frightened woman about to have her first baby, and a party where shes both scorned and adored by a new generation of artists, followed by a hilarious encounter with three muggers. Meanwhile, Lillian carefully recounts her celebrated career in advertising, her adored husband and son, and her emotional breakdown. Elegantly written, Rooney creates a glorious paean to a distant literary life and timeand an unabashed celebration of human connections that bridge the past and future. Agent: Lisa Bankoff, ICM Partners. (Jan.)

 
BookPage Reviews

All in a day's walk

If you are not charmed by Lillian Boxfish, then there may be no hope for you.

Lillian—in her green velvet dress, orange fire lipstick, blue fedora and mink coat—doesn’t dress, in her words, “like a typical old lady.” And when Lillian finds herself on an improbable journey through the gritty streets of Manhattan on New Year’s Eve in 1984, readers soon learn that the 85-year-old Ms. Boxfish doesn’t walk, think or live like an old lady either.

Poet Kathleen Rooney’s second novel was inspired by the life of Depression-era advertising doyenne Margaret Fishback, who became the highest paid female ad copywriter in the world. Lauded by society pages for her beauty and wit, Fishback also gained praise and popularity as a poet and writer of modern etiquette guides.

As Lillian weaves her way through New York City, recalling her life and loves, we are treated (yes, treated) to the melancholy humor of a woman who knows she is drifting out of place and yet right at home at the same time. It is inescapably sad to accompany an elderly lady while she ponders the persons and places she has outlived. Yet Lillian’s grace is in her ability to rise above nostalgia.

For some, Lillian will be the stranger you meet who unexpectedly makes your day more pleasant; for others, Lillian will become a fast friend. Either way, the fresh air will do you good.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews