Why We Came To The City
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Why We Came To The City

3.57 (1,104 ratings by Goodreads)
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-Stunning . . . A beautiful, sprawling, and generous book. Jansma is a brilliantly talented writer, but he also has a unique insight into what friends mean to one another, and what it means to be part of a city in which you never quite belong, but can't quite bring yourself to leave. It's a heartfelt novel, tender and painful and cathartic all at once, and even if the characters belong to New York, the story belongs to us all.- --NPR December, 2008. A heavy snowstorm is blowing through Manhattan and the economy is on the brink of collapse, but none of that matters to a handful of guests at a posh holiday party. Five years after their college graduation, the fiercely devoted friends at the heart of this richly absorbing novel remain as inseparable as ever: editor and social butterfly Sara Sherman, her troubled astronomer boyfriend George Murphy, loudmouth poet Jacob Blaumann, classics major turned investment banker William Cho, and Irene Richmond, an enchanting artist with an inscrutable past. Amid cheerful revelry and free-flowing champagne, the friends toast themselves and the new year ahead--a year that holds many surprises in store. They must navigate ever-shifting relationships with the city and with one another, determined to push onward in pursuit of their precarious dreams. And when a devastating blow brings their momentum to a halt, the group is forced to reexamine their aspirations and chart new paths through unexpected losses. Kristopher Jansma's award-winning debut novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, was praised for its -wry humor- and -charmingly unreliable narrator- in The New Yorker and hailed as -F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Wes Anderson- by The Village Voice. In Why We Came to the City, Jansma offers an unforgettable exploration of friendships forged in the fires of ambition, passion, hope, and love. This glittering story of a generation coming of age is a sweeping, poignant triumph.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 424 pages
  • 160 x 235 x 38.1mm | 636g
  • Penguin Putnam Inc
  • Viking Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0525426604
  • 9780525426608
  • 517,379

Review quote

Praise for"Why We Came to the City" Why did we come to the city, anyway?And why on earth would we ever leave?In Jansma's able hands, these are and are not metaphors. We came because we are more ourselves as part of a collective.We came to learn our limits.We came so that we might know when to leave.This is a lively, addictive party of a book, and you're invited." Elisa Albert, author of "After Birth ""Like "A Little Life" and "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.," Jansma's "Why We Came to the City"shows us, with beauty and insight, what it's like to be young and smart in this time, and in this place. It's a major achievement." Darin Strauss, author of"Half a Life" Praise for "The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards" With wry humor and a steady hand . . . the narrator s games never fail to entertain, even if he is constantly changing the rules. " The New Yorker" F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Wes Anderson. . . . The novel strikes a chord on questions of authenticity, love, and ambition, and it reminds us that life is often out of our control, even if we re writing it down. " The Village Voice" A tricky picaresque thick with literary allusion from Fitzgerald to Amis . . . A clever, tightly paced novel of ever-upping stakes. Vogue.com Couched in Jansma s wildly recursive funhouse of a novel is a coming-of-age story . . . filled with clever literary allusions and insider jokes. . . . There s plenty to relish in this noteworthy debut. Heller McAlpin, NPR.org Though one might recognize bits of Dickens, Fitzgerald, or Hemingway, this is simply a good case of stealing from geniuses. It s a breathless work that celebrates the literary tradition, while making a strong case that its author belongs on the shelf beside his forebears. "Time Out New York" (5 stars) A terrifically fun book that s a little bit Calvino, a little bit Jennifer Egan, and a little bit the inside of every young artist that ever was. Concerned with the nature of storytelling, art, fallacy, and f**king up, and told as only a witty wordsmith can, we re pretty sure it ll be one of your favorites. Flavorwire, 50 Up-and-Coming New York Culture Makers to Watch A canny, seductive, and utterly transfixing tale about the magic of storytelling and the misery of writing . . . Like a magician pulling a seemingly endless string of colorful scarves from a hat, Jansma streams stories-within-stories-within-stories, each a diabolically clever homage. . . . Readers will detect riffs on Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Truman Capote, Bob Dylan, Tolstoy, Salinger, Borges, Kipling, and many more. . . . A first novel with the strength and agility of a great cat leaping through rings of fire. "Booklist" (starred review)"show more

About Kristopher Jansma

Kristopher Jansma is the author of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, winner of the Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award. A graduate of Columbia University's MFA program, he is now an assistant professor of English and creative writing at SUNY New Paltz and a graduate lecturer in fiction at Sarah Lawrence College. He has written for the New York Times, Salon, The Believer, The Millions, Slice, BOMB, and Electric Literature. He lives with his wife and son in Brooklyn, New York.show more

Rating details

1,104 ratings
3.57 out of 5 stars
5 19% (215)
4 35% (387)
3 32% (357)
2 10% (108)
1 3% (37)
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