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Back from living in Paris with his wife and two kids, as chronicled charmingly in Paris to the Moon, Gopnik, a writer for the New Yorker, records in his tidy, writerly and obsessive fashion his family's relocation to the city of his earliest professional aspiration: New York. No longer the grim, decrepit hell of the 1970s, New York of the new century has become a children's city, infused by a "new paternal feeling," and doting father Gopnik is delighted to walk through the Children's Gate of Central Park to relive the romance of childhood. His 20 various essays meander over topics dear to the hearts of New York parents, such as learning to be appropriately Jewish ("A Purim Story"); working with the ad hoc committee called Artists and Anglers at his son's hypercaring private school, on methods of flight for the production of Peter Pan; and his four-year-old daughter's imaginary playmate, Charlie Ravioli, who is simply too booked to play with her. The less structured series of essays on Thanksgiving are most pleasing and read like diaries, ranging from the rage over noise to the safety of riding buses. Gopnik conveys in his mannered, occasionally gilded prose that New York still represents a kind of childlike hope—"for something big to happen." 150,000 copy first printing. (Oct.)
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*Starred Review* Gopnik's previous book, the best-selling Paris to the Moon (2000), drew its material in large part from his "Paris Journal" column appearing in the New Yorker. That book shared his and his family's experiences living in the City of Light for five years. In 2000 he and they moved back to New York, and in his new collection of essays, he demonstrates anew how, despite tackling two of the world's greatest and oft-written-about cities, he has staked out his own mastery of the literature of place. As Gopnik ranges over contemporary life in the Big Apple, bringing into his purview and commentary such specific topics as raising children in that vastly busy environment and indulging in one of the city's favorite preoccupations (namely, consulting a psychotherapist), he lets there be no mistake that these pieces are literate, serious in his analysis of social issues (even though he can be funny at the same time), deeply thought out and well reasoned, and arise from not only an immaculate writerly talent but also a sharp ability to understand why people, in particular places, do peculiar things. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.