“Book Review: Only in New York (Volume 2)”
Reviewed by Frank Pizzoli
From bold-face names to the guy down the street, M. G. Crisci covers true life NYC in this poignant and funny nonfiction collection
Is the Big Apple your favorite city fruit?
Author M. G. Crisci solidly hits his target with 36 stories that span 55 years and cover all five boroughs. He’s even illustrated the book with convincing pen and ink renditions that introduce each story.
This story collection reflects what former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (like Crisci, a New Yorker for decades) is fond of saying about a good tale: Besides being a good story, it has the added advantage of being true. Crisci’s stories have such an authentic ring to them. They are based on his own experiences with a gorgeous cast of characters that only a city that never sleeps could produce. Crisci’s years as an advertising executive have also provided him with grist for his story mill.
An additional fun feature is the author’s egalitarian approach to his stories and the people in them. They run from popular names and places to people who could easily have gone unnoticed their entire life, except for their being elevated by Crisci. He has a sense that life’s important lessons are taught by all the people we come into contact with, if we pay attention to them. And in Only In New York, he certainly has.
Crisci’s powers of keen observation are always working. No celebrity is too big to display their ordinary human features and petty foibles, no individual too insignificant to be overlooked. He covers the kind of childhood experiences that resonate and remind me of a past gone by: from the under-a-dollar Christmas tree to the apocryphal accordion.
These funny and insightful stories offer glimpses into the reasons for why people move to New York to begin with and why millions of tourists invade the city each year: celebrity glimpses, the restaurants, museums, galleries, and a chance to mix and mingle with people from all over the world.
Readers encounter a cab-full of artist-drawn caricatures of the Carol Burnett Show cast. They’ll learn the rigors of subleasing your apartment to the Transportation Minister for Russian Affairs. And read hilarious and poignant tales about iconic eateries like Vesuvio’s and the Cattlemen Steak House and locations such as Madison Square Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a hotel owned by Mickey Mantle.
The stories run the gambit of the wildness of NYC, including how to sell hash, how one visitor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art snagged a King Tut’s throne, and why butterstained Hermes ties can indeed be a fashion statement. But let’s not forget about the Bowery’s Jewish comfort food sniffed out by millionaires in limos. The NYC staple known as The Subway Rush makes an appearance as do native New Yorkers who whine, cajole, and offer their man-on-the-street philosophical gems. This book is a smorgasbord of NYC delights and oddities.
Genre: Nonfiction / Mid-Atlantic
Print Length: 232 pages
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