A longtime New Yorker contributor writes about his early years in the city—the 1980s principally—ruminating about art and artists, love and apartments, writing and reading and speaking, and the city that he loves.
Gopnik—the author of numerous works on sundry subjects (The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, 2011, etc.)—returns with an affecting memoir about his many dawns: his love life (there is much here about Martha, his wife of many years), writing career, and friendships with significant figures such as Richard Avedon and Jeff Koons. This is a highly allusive text, with references ranging across the cultural landscape, from Anthony Trollope to X-Men, from Falstaff and Prince Hall to professor Irwin Corey. But Gopnik will engage most firmly those interested in the art world of the 1980s. He studied art history, worked as a docent at the Museum of Modern Art, and did his earliest publishing in art magazines. Later, he moved to GQ, where he wrote about men’s fashion, then to Knopf as an editor before settling in at the New Yorker, his promised land. The text is also an extensive love letter to his wife—and includes a carefully erotic section about their sex life and about sex among married people in general. Throughout, readers will become aware of the author’s great fortune in his career: meeting important people, acquiring jobs that even he knew he was not qualified for—e.g., Knopf and editing. However, Gopnik retains an appealing modesty throughout and has some very entertaining stories to tell, including one about an invasion of rats in their loft (some foul secrets of the city, he learns, lie below).
Not exactly a Horatio Alger story but an engaging tale of a writer finding his way in work and life.