‘Going Into Town’ Celebrates Everything We Love (and Love to Hate) About New York City [REVIEW]

New York City waterbug

In Roz Chast’s love letter to New York, Going Into Town, she reminisces about everything we love and loathe about the Big Apple, including its wildlife. (Illustration by Roz Chast)

From the very first time I stepped foot in New York City as a teenager, I’m one of those people who is simply crazy about the place. I love everything about it: from the sidewalk food vendors to the mom-and-pop coffee shops, from Little Italy and Chinatown to Wall Street and Battery Park. There’s a palpable energy there that throbs with life, like an irresistible rhythm that simply invades my soul, and I feel it every time I arrive. Now author and cartoonist Roz Chast captures every nuance of that experience in her love letter to Manhattan, Going Into Town. 

Roz Chast's GOING INTO TOWN

Bloomsbury

Born in Brooklyn, moving to the ‘burbs wasn’t high on Chast’s bucket list. Still, she tries to focus on the perks of suburban life: better schools, fewer drugs, cheaper rents. Yet no matter how long she lives beyond the city limits, NYC will always be home in her heart. So when her daughter went off to Manhattan to attend college, she wanted to provide her with a guidebook of sorts that would hopefully help her develop her own love affair with the bright lights, big city. Thus, Going Into Town was born.

In all honesty, I wish I’d had this book back when I moved to New York in 1992. Sure, I had visited before and felt perfectly safe wandering around the city on my own. And it wasn’t as if I had moved to a place where I didn’t know anyone. After all, I had friends and colleagues who were happy to tell me where to go and how to get there. But there was still so much I didn’t know, facts which would have been really helpful to have at least read about before I landed at La Guardia with all my worldly goods packed into a few overstuffed suitcases.

Well, those are the golden nuggets of information which Chast packs into this book, along with love and warmth and loads of great humor. Simply reading through this thin volume I had numerous “Aha! moments” (as Oprah says), which left me thinking, “That makes so much sense!” From her explanation of the city’s (mostly) grid-like layout to her descriptions of the best way to traverse the island and utilize public transportation, she had me nodding my head and asking why no one had ever explained these things to me, especially when she hilariously relates why we should always avoid an empty subway car!

New York shops

There is never a shortage of things to see and do in Manhattan. (Illustration by Roz Chast)

For all of us who have lived in New York at one point or another in our lives, however, this book stirs old memories and reminds us why we still love the city to this day. How can we forget walking down city sidewalks lined by shops and stores of every shape and size and finding those little hidden gems that are fun to step into but which still make us question how on earth they stay in business? She also reminds us of those long, magical days we walked from The Cloisters or Central Park all the way down to the Staten Island Ferry for a free trip across the Upper Bay, exploring SoHo and all the little ethnic neighborhoods along the way.

With Going Into Town, Chast shines a bright light on all the things that make us love Manhattan, from the grand and beautiful to the weird and gross (yes, you will see rats and water bugs bigger than anything they have in Texas). Her enthusiasm for the subject is contagious and it makes us want to go back one more time to revel in the delicious, mad, whimsical, and addictive chaos that is New York. Her daughter is fortunate to have a mom who cared enough to put this together for her, and we are truly lucky to reap the rewards of her efforts as well. This is a fanciful keepsake and effervescent guidebook travelers will want to keep and share for years to come.

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Roz Chast

Roz Chast
(Photo by Bill Hayes)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Roz Chast grew up in Brooklyn. Her cartoons began appearing in the New Yorker in 1978, where she has since published more than one thousand.

She wrote and illustrated the number one New York Times bestseller (100+ weeks) Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, a National Book Critics Circle Award and Kirkus Prize winner and finalist for the National Book Award; What I Hate: From A to Z; and her cartoon collections The Party, After You Left and Theories of Everything. She was awarded the Harvey Award Hall of Fame Award.

To learn more about the author, visit Roz at her home on the Web at RozChast.com.

GOING INTO TOWN: A LOVE LETTER TO NEW YORK
By Roz Chast
176 pp. Bloomsbury. $18.

Purchase Going Into Town at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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