Sunday, December 5, 2010

New York stories

So much of what I've watched and read since moving to New York -- a year ago tomorrow! -- have been New York stories. That's partially because so much takes place here, of course. I would have read Freedom, where maybe 1/3 of the novel is set in New York, whether I was here or not. Probably still would have gone to see the Wall Street sequel. Maybe would have read Liar's Poker. But then, I definitely would not have read There's A Road To Everywhere Except Where You Came From, and probably not Super Sad True Love Story, which I started the other day, either.

Freedom and Liar's Poker are excellent books, and also universal stories. You don't need to have ever been to New York to enjoy them. Super Sad True Love Story is so far ... kind of an angry but not really on-the-nose joke about New York today. I have to think more about it. There's A Road To Everywhere rings completely true, and it should -- it's a memoir about the recent past.

But today I saw a movie that surpasses them all in terms of being so true to life it could be a documentary. It's called Tiny Furniture, and the set-up is a standard one: twenty-something returns home from college, directionless, to live with mom, takes up with crazy friend, meets bad news guys. Everything that is said and done I swear I have already seen said and done. Yet it feels original. Not-quite-right New York movies show people living in sprawling spaces with a sort of gleaming minimalist aesthetic. But this tony Tribeca loft was lined with storage cupboards and the daughters' rooms were really just one room with a fake wall down the middle. Young actors bitch about staying in Bushwick. A drug-addled daughter of privilege complains about how weird her mom's gotten since taking up with the Landmark Forum. One character doesn't know the difference between Ohio and Ontario. Manhattan dwellers take cabs home from Dumbo instead of the train. They never make little references to the 6 or the L to make it sound real -- they don't have to, because everything they say and do sounds real. Highly and completely recommended.

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