Going Into Town: A Love Let­ter to New York

Roz Chast

  • Review
By – September 21, 2017

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.

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