REVIEW by Willard Manus
is a gripping and memorable New York novel, one that captures the heart
and soul, the agony and the ecstasy, of the city in a captivating way.
Part love story, part history, part elegy, it opens on July 4, 1976 when
New York is celebrating Americas bi-centennial. George Langland,
a Columbia University student, meets Anna Goff, a fetching young Barnard
gal, in a riverside park near the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
They were there for the fireworks, which came in culmination of
a long, decent day, absent so far as they knew the customary lies and
assassinations-a day full of tall ships on the river and barbecues
and beer on its banks.
also making big bucks. After having worked a series of low-wage jobs,
he had found employment on a coffee truck. Soon his boss realized that
he could sell more coffee in a permanent spot than he could while shunting
around the city. He opened a coffee-house in the East Village, one
of those places that popped up in your neighborhood. It was scary dead
for the first three weeks and then it picked up quickly. Over the
next ten years, Brown & Co. (the company name) grew exponentially,
not just in New York but everywhere in the USA-and even overseas.
George, now a partner, soon had more money than was good for him.
ends fifteen years later, when George is sixty and finds himself talking
to Anna in his head...and realizing that there would always be sorrow,
like stones in a sack; and there would always be loss. He then thinks
about dying, not in a bad way, just in a knowing way; this is what
lifes later phases contained, this solid knowledge. Despite his
fears and weaknesses, he knew he endured it; just endured it, most human
beings, almost all-endured it and distracted from it with love and
desire and hope. To die, whether by ones own hand or fates,
was to relinquish those things. And so we continue to endure it, all of
it, all the suffering and loss and the passages of despair, the dying
itself-endure it and endure it and endure it-until that moment
of severing mercy when all the enduring is done.