Roz Chast’s breezy and winsome jaunt, Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York, prides itself on not being a “definitive guidebook,” nor an “insider’s guide,” nor a “history book.” Rather, it is a deceptively rich rumination of New York as it exists today, an animated investigation into the heart of what makes New York such an indelible beacon of opportunity. In her inimitable cartoon style, so often a highlight in each week’s New Yorker, Chast breaks down what it’s like to live in the Big Apple.
The visual splendor found within these pages is apparent from the start. Chast is a technician of whimsy, and though her figures may appear simplistic at first glance, they perfectly complement the mild surreality of the book. For indeed, New York is not only a concrete jungle, it is an isle of green space, culture, and identity (or the lack thereof or the constant search for). Each element gets its due.
There is an inherent Jewishness within this book that transcends its cartoon denizens. Each page is beautifully colored and suffused with Chast’s delightfully-rendered neuroses, coupled with pointedly elucidating observations about how to traverse and understand the unrelenting civic mechanisms of the City. Chast’s characteristic squiggly aesthetic underlies the book’s conception of New York as a thriving, but rapidly changing, metropolis.
Whether one has lived and loved in New York, or yearns for the chance to make an impression on the city, Going into Town will be an indispensable companion — and though she writes to the contrary, Chast is a worthy chaperone.