This is exactly the kind of book I've always wanted to write. THE GOOD PEOPLE OF NEW YORK, the first novel by short story writer Thisbe Nissen (OUT OF THE GIRL'S ROOM AND INTO THE DARK), is a delightful, funny, moving and very real story about one woman, one man, and the daughter they bring into the world --- and the everyday lives they lead. It may not sound like much, but it's a universe of a book that will unleash a torrent of wonder and joy into the lives of everybody who reads it.
Roz Rosenzweig meets Edwin Anderson and they marry. They have an irrepressible daughter named Miranda. They have good times, they have bad times. And Nissen, with her acute eye for the little things that make people who they are and her compassionate and open heart, brings every nuance of their relationship and existence into heartbreaking focus. I couldn't put this book down and I don't want to tell you much about the plot, because every turn of the page brings another experience that you will both relate to and be surprised by.
The way the story builds is so natural that you feel as if you are sitting down with an old friend from high school, someone you haven't seen in ages, who decides to spill their guts to you over a long autumn afternoon lunch, sparing you no details. THE GOOD PEOPLE OF NEW YORK is about good people, flawed people, real people who are entirely entertaining and compelling characters. Thisbe Nissen has a crystal ball of a voice that lets her into the tiny fibers of a character's being --- she is a contemporary Edith Wharton, walking that fine line between judgment and storytelling, filling in the blanks without being a Miss Smarty Pants. She is a considerate and talented writer.
I could go on and on with nice adjectives about Nissen's writing, as alive and entertaining as it is. Life is a wild ride, and Nissen throws us on, strapping us in for the journey, making sure that we care about these characters as much as she obviously does. And we do. THE GOOD PEOPLE OF NEW YORK becomes the best first novel I've read in years.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011
The Good People of New York