Ghosts of New York

Jim Lewis. West Virginia Univ, $22.99 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-949199-96-3
Lewis (The King Is Dead) maps the meanderings of four New Yorkers in this rich if diffuse series of vignettes. In “The New Love,” a drifter named Dominic walks with an older stranger and reflects on the city’s haunting permanence (“No one dies in New York without leaving a phantom behind”). In “The Big Rock Candy Mountain,” Stephanie, a photographer, celebrates her return after spending seven years abroad by taking in the city’s late-night shimmer. Black foster care child Caruso finally finds a place to call home and an attentive audience for his singing voice in “The Lion of Stuyvesant”; and in “Unto Us Lowliest Sometime Sweep,” heartbroken shopkeeper Benny is perched on the edge of the Brooklyn Bridge contemplating suicide. Lewis finds great beauty in his descriptions (“Spindrift blew off the parked cars, swirling upwards and mixing with the down-falling storm”), though the many threads drift and occasionally feel unresolved, particularly the late speculative concept of a half-real, half-mechanical bunny sold by street vendors that acts to spread a deadly flu in “The Winter Market.” While the character-driven sequences are stylishly conceived and nuanced, the fragmented pieces fall short of completing a bigger picture. Readers will find themselves wishing for a little more. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 03/17/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
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