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Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York

Review

Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York

Roz Chast’s graphic memoir, GOING INTO TOWN: A Love Letter to New York, is exactly what you would expect: a charming and idiosyncratic Chastian twist on the time-honored “guide/ode to New York City” format. The subjects covered here aren’t anything we haven’t seen before, especially if you live in New York, but it’s Chast’s renderings of these topics that make this book such a delight to read, not to mention look at.

The comics on each page are full of her signature “density of visual information,” utterly evocative of the sounds, sights and smells of Manhattan. In this way, Chast is the perfect ambassador to New York City. Humorous, scrubby, friendly and downright weird, the book is ready to take your hand and lead you merrily down the avenues on a romp through Chast’s greatest inspiration.

"Those who already live in New York will no doubt appreciate Chast’s take on their city, while those who don’t might be tempted to move here --- or at least come for a visit."

Of course, GOING INTO TOWN is more than just a guidebook for the would-be New Yorker --- that’s where the “Love Letter” part comes in. The book wouldn’t be half as good if it didn’t include Chast’s little anecdotes and witticisms about what the city means to her. Like her drawings, her voice is unique and will often cause you to chuckle out loud, as I did while reading it on the subway this morning. I loved every mention of her parents and their family trips into the city from native Brooklyn, as well as her tales from when she lived in Manhattan during the 1980s. The story about the dead guy in the apartment stuffed full of stacks of newspaper was particularly spine-tingling.

Furthermore, it was truly refreshing to read a memoir by a member of New York City’s artistic old guard that couldn’t be boiled down to a simple “This city was the coolest in the ’70s and ’80s when it was all gritty, but it’s super lame now.” Sure, GOING INTO TOWN does not have the same literary merit as a JUST KIDS, but through her open-faced appreciation and thorough understanding of the city as it is, Chast puts forth some garnets of wisdom: “I remind myself that life is change, and that life in New York is definitely change, and that it’s pointless to get overly sad because the place where you used to buy sketch pads is now a Jamba Juice.”

Chast makes everything that should be icky about New York somehow delightful, like a dog owner who loves their mangy pup just the way they are. GOING INTO TOWN is a total pleaser that could put a smile on just about anyone’s face. Those who already live in New York will no doubt appreciate Chast’s take on their city, while those who don’t might be tempted to move here --- or at least come for a visit.

Reviewed by Alex Bowditch on October 6, 2017

Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York
by Roz Chast

  • Publication Date: October 3, 2017
  • Genres: Graphic Novel, Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • ISBN-10: 1620403218
  • ISBN-13: 9781620403211