Go East, Young Man

Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast. Bloomsbury, 2017. 978162040321.

This isn’t a guidebook or a history, warns cartoonist Roz Chast — it began as a booklet she made for her daughter when she left home to attend college in Manhattan. (Chast and her husband left Brooklyn, where she’d grown up and her parents lived (see Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?), in 1990.)

“I feel about Manhattan the way I feel about a book, a TV series, a movie, a play, an artist, a song, a food, a whatever that I love. I want to tell you about it so that maybe you will love it too…”

I just returned to Seattle from a trip to NYC with my wife, Silver, to meet my friend, Teo, and his wife, Krista, who were visiting from Finland. This book would have been great to read before the trip, but it’s perfect to read afterward, too, because it reminds me so much about the city. (In fact I just sent a copy to Teo and Krista.) Chast’s info on the layout of Manhatan will clarify my explanation of streets, avenues, and the east side vs west side. We walked everywhere (over 10 miles per day) and found lots of places like the shop that sells ribbon (Chast’s drawing is beautiful). I barely noticed the standpipes — Chast has photos of several, including one named Trixxxi — but I’m sure I will on my next trip. There are bits about the subway, stuff to do (including comics made from some of the paintings in the Met), parks, food, and more. Chast’s love for the city is both obvious and infectious. And even better, it makes me remember moments from our trip — Silver jumping at seeing a rat in Washington Square Park (I tried to convince her it was a leaf), our long wait at Russ & Daughters, and trekking to the Apple Store from Harlem.

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