Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Only in New York by Lily Brett (2014)

A few years ago, I went to a session at the Wheeler Centre where Lily Brett was reading from her book Lola Bensky. She was wonderful – funny, clever, entertaining – and every since then I have had a massive girl crush on Lily Brett. I downloaded her latest, Only in New York, as soon as I found out about its existence but waited until last week to read it. The anticipation of the pleasure it was going to bring me was almost as pleasurable as reading the book itself…but not quite!

In Only in New York, Brett shares a series of vignettes about her life in New York: the walks she takes, the people she meets and the places she visits and loves. In the process, Brett skillfully weaves in the New York of the past, the Melbourne of her childhood and the Poland of her Jewish parents. She discusses issue of great tragedy and great humour, often in the same vignette, and through her featherlight touch the Holocaust is given a her own individual perspective as one of the first babies born to not one but two Holocaust survivors.
This description makes the book sound sad but it is in fact very funny; her wry observations identify the basic humour of humanity and the particular humanity of the type of events that happen only in New York.

She mentioned the book reading I went to in her book, which I think means we are now best friends. Only in New York is a lovely book, four stars.

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