At the Strangers' Gate: Arrivals in New York

Knopf. Sept. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9781400041800. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101947500. LIT
OrangeReviewStarIn this memoir, New Yorker writer and essayist Gopnik (Paris to the Moon) looks back at his life in New York City in the 1980s through a series of lenses: his marriage to filmmaker Martha Parker, the apartments and neighborhoods in which they've lived, and the art and food they've experienced. As with many inhabitants of New York, real estate becomes a primary focus for the couple, and their living situations—from a tiny studio to a 1,500—square foot Soho loft—play an outsized role in the author's consciousness. Two chapters stand out as the most striking. The first captures "the experience of being adopted by a charismatic mentor," describing the couple's close relationship with fashion photographer Richard Avedon. The second depicts the changes brought to the burgeoning Soho neighborhood as it becomes the center of the art world.
VERDICT As Gopnik writes, "art traps time," and with humor, affection, and the careful eye of a trained art historian, he offers an enjoyable and engaging story of New York at a very specific moment in history.
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