Lasting City: The Anatomy of Nostalgia

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9780871408440: Lasting City: The Anatomy of Nostalgia

The darkly intense Irish-American family drama come alive like never before in this "virtuosic meta-memoir" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

“The blood-red of Manhattan, the brilliant green of an Irish-American wake, the blue-rinsed divas of the opera and the bathhouse alike” (Michael Gorra) are hypnotically rendered in this “astoundingly smart book” (John Waters). With some of the most lyrical cadences in recent literature, the legendary James McCourt animates twentieth-century New York through a “kaleidoscope of sharp-edged, brilliantly colored memories” (J. D. McClatchy) and with “dynamic prose and high-brow erudition that has gone the way of the dodo” (Publishers Weekly). Braiding a nostalgic portrait of the eternal city with a boy’s funny, guttersnipe precocity and outrageous coming-of-age in the 1940s and 1950s, McCourt revisits the fantasy city of his youth with Proustian memories of steam calliopes in Central Park, Hiroshima “obliterated in a flash of light,” and closing his mother’s eyes for the last time. As sensational as it is satisfying, Lasting City, a profoundly American work, identifies the spot where genius and madness meet.

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About the Author:

James McCourt is the author of Mawrdew Czgowchwz, Time Remaining, Delancey’s Way, Now Voyagers: The Night Sea Journey and Queer Street. He has contributed to the Yale Review, The New Yorker, and the Paris Review. He lives in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Review:

“Turned by a master’s hand, this kaleidoscope of sharp-edged, brilliantly colored memories continually shifts and shines, resolving at last into a grand parable of a soul in the city. Sly, scandalous―and sensational!”
- J. D. McClatchy

“In Lasting City, the exquisite soul of Ronald Firbank lives again...Though McCourt provides an esoteric pleasure, it calls out to a dimension in all of us.”
- Harold Bloom

Lasting City offers us the most gorgeous―even the most Czgowchwz!―shards and splinters of memory, as though James McCourt had tossed a rock through a stained glass window. The blood-red of Manhattan, the brilliant green of an Irish-American wake, the blue-rinsed divas of the opera and the bathhouse alike: McCourt’s world is all here, a camp Runyonesque New Yorker’s New York, and more vivid than ever before.”
- Michael Gorra, author of Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece

Lasting City is a tell-all encyclopedia of wit, erudition and recovered memory for the gifted student.”
- Fran Lebowitz

“In this virtuosic meta-memoir, author McCourt careens along the course of his life while exposing the voluble convolutions of his troubled Irish-Catholic family and documenting several long-lost New Yorks.... The allure of this book is McCourt’s dynamic prose and high-brow erudition that has gone the way of the dodo. McCourt has preserved on paper the intellectual climate that helped to make New York City the edgy capital of the 20th Century.”
- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“A creatively executed memoir rekindling the epoch of an eccentric native New Yorker. ...An artful tapestry of fever-dreamed conversations, nostalgic poignancy and rich Gotham history.... McCourt’s drifting, serpentine narrative unfurls a lush and prideful profile, painstakingly contemplated and clearly written from the heart. The writer tells the stories of his gay youth, his family’s melodrama and his own sweet maturation with an intoxicating amalgam of poetry, quotation, fantasy, and the kind of sweeping, colorful language that creates a kaleidoscope of precious memories.... Vibrantly, blissfully sublime.”
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred review

“In this lucid, lyrical memoir, McCourt blends the cosmopolitan facticity of Queer Street (2003) with the campy, theatrical swagger of his Mawrdew Czgowchwz novels.... For all his light humor and stylistic innovation, McCourt does not skirt the hard facts of growing up gay in 1950s New York. The result is less autobiography than a powerful work of creative nonfiction, indebted as much to the New York of McCourt’s youth as to his honed artistic talent, reminiscent of both Woody Allen and Richard McCann’s Mother of Sorrows (2005). Intensely personal, unabashedly playful, and brilliantly inventive in its own gorgeous spotlight.”
- Booklist

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