"The master of a journalistic style long vanished - urbane, lucid, courteous...A masterpiece of observation and storytelling". (Ian McEwan). Mitchell is the laureate of old New York. The hidden corners of the city and the people who lived there are his subject. He captured the waterfront rooming-houses, nickel-a-drink saloons, all-night ...
"The master of a journalistic style long vanished - urbane, lucid, courteous...A masterpiece of observation and storytelling". (Ian McEwan). Mitchell is the laureate of old New York. The hidden corners of the city and the people who lived there are his subject. He captured the waterfront rooming-houses, nickel-a-drink saloons, all-night restaurants, the "visionaries, obsessives, imposters, fanatics, lost souls, the end-is-near street preachers, old Gypsy Kings and old Gypsy Queens, and out-and-out freak-show freaks". Mitchell's trademark curiosity, respect and graveyard humour fuel these magical essays. Written between 1943 and 1965, "Up in the Old Hotel" is the complete collection of Joseph Mitchell's "New Yorker" journalism and includes "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon", "Old Mr Flood", "The Bottom of the Harbour" and "Joe Gould's Secret". "Joseph Mitchell is buried treasure". (Salman Rushdie).
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I read an article about Joseph Mitchell in the Chicago Tribune in the summer of this year. I was unfamilar with him as his heyday as a non-fiction writer was in the 40s and 50s. However, I managed to locate a number of his books and have read them all. The writing is brilliant and the characterizations of the people of NY and New Jersey at that time are as fine as any I have read. The center of each book is the water-the oceans and rivers, the men who ply them and the area around the Fulton Fish Market where they sell their catches. Up in the Old Hotel will give you a wonderful sense of a time long past and some wonderful characters that lived a very different life. It is the best writing I have read in many, many years.
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