A New York Times Notable Book for 2015
Vivian Gornick loves to walk—to absorb the drama, humor, and humanity of the New York City streets, to see “the fifty different ways people struggle to remain human.” After a lifetime of navigating the city on her own terms, Gornick uses the metropolis as both her mirror and her muse as she examines her fiercely independent life along with the dilemma of connection in our time.
Her closest walking companion is Leonard, a gay man with whom she has a long-standing relationship that is as gratifying as it is contentious. As her discussions with Leonard play in her mind, she dismantles the idea of the anonymous city, finding solace on a crowded bus, among the pundits in Times Square, and watching a bank of lights go on at dusk in an adjacent apartment building. “I have lived out my conflicts not my fantasies,” she writes, “and so has New York. We are at one.”
Engaging with a city that challenges, inspires, and sometimes thwarts a single woman, The Odd Woman and the City is a deeply moving ode to Gotham, and to the friendships and encounters that invigorate and ground a life in the city.
‘Gornick’s voice does not just tell the story, it is the story . . . voice struggle—and none can do without the other.’ —New Yorker
‘Funny and elegiac and truth-dealing . .. It’s a slim book with big echoes . .. She is as good a writer about friendship as we have.’ —Dwight Garner, New York Times
Vivian Gornick is the author of the acclaimed memoir Fierce Attachments, a biography of Emma Goldman, and three essay collections, two of which, The Men in My Life and The End of the Novel of Love, were finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award.