Kaggsy of kaggsysbookishramblings and Simon of stuckinabook host a regular event where a year is chosen and those who participate read a book published in that year. This time around the year is 1977. I enjoy reading what people post up on their blogs but I have not participated before. No idea why. Other things just seemed to get in the way.
In my last post I stated I was fed up with all of the unread books on my shelves and I have decided to do something about it. You can read about my plan here (if you are so inclined). I have to say I am beginning this project with quite a bit of enthusiasm. I went to random.org and entered the number of books I have on my shelf (1250) and let the wheels begin to turn. Up popped an old paperback book on my shelf written by Helene Hanff. Most book lovers will have read her lovely book 84 Charing Cross Road. However my chosen book is one of her lesser known books called Apple of My Eye.
I started it yesterday and am on the last few pages now. I have loved this story. And guess what??!! It was published in 1977. What a coincidence. So I am featuring this book as my entry into the event of books published in 1977. It also appears to be the only book on my shelves published in 1977.
Helene Hanff is a long time New Yorker. In 1976 she was asked by a publisher to write a tourist guide book detailing what a tourist would want to do when visiting New York City. Well, like a lot of us, who never visit the attractions in our home city, instead opting to travel to see the sights in other parts of the world, Helene is no different.
She is telling her friend Patsy about this project and what on earth is she going to feature in this book. Patsy also was born and raised in New York and they both start by stating they’d not visited the Statue of Liberty in all their years there. That is the beginning of many outings they begin in exploring New York. This book is that story.
The book is so much fun to read. They visit all of the well known places, walking to most places or taking buses. They took a taxi once and would only take the underground to get home as one can’t see New York if they are underground.
They visit all of the neighbourhoods on the east and west side of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and talk about the differences of the people who live on each side. They talk about the restaurants they eat in, the people they meet, the history of the places they visit. They talk about the newly built World Trade Centre and dare each other to visit the viewing platform at the top. Remember this is 1977 and things in New York were very different then to what they are now.
They talk about the attitudes towards redevelopment, what they think about the decaying parts of the city and some of the older decrepit buildings. Their conversations are so amusing. I chuckled out loud a few times as they bantered back and forth with their varying views on this most diverse city.
They took a bus tour into Harlem and when Patsy’s apartment complex next to Central Park was featured as part of the tour with the guide telling visitors incorrectly who lives in it they make it their mission to correct him.
The two of them often had conversations with each other that were totally separate. Helene would chatter away filling Patsy in on the history of certain places and Patsy, not listening would be talking about something completely different at the same time.
If you enjoy books that take place in New York then this one is so much fun. I also learned a lot about the New York of 40 years ago. I also have a confession to make. I have travelled extensively in this world of ours but I have never been to New York City. Though it is one of my favourite settings to read about. I have such a romantic notion of what this city is like. I’m sure that bubble would burst if I actually visited the place.
I only wish Helene Hanff had written many books because her writing is wonderful, astute and informative. I guarantee these two women will brighten your day.