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When Adam Gopnik and his soon-to-be-wife, Martha, left the comforts of home in Montreal for New York, the city then, much like today, was a pilgrimage site for the young, the arty, and the ambitious. But it was also becoming a city of greed, where both life's consolations and its necessities were increasingly going to the highest bidder. At the Strangers' Gate builds a portrait of this particular moment in New York through the story of this couple's journey - from their excited arrival as aspiring artists to their eventual growth into a New York family. Gopnik transports us to his tiny basement room on the Upper East Side, and later to SoHo, where he captures a unicorn: an affordable New York loft. He takes us through his professional meanderings, from graduate student-cum-library-clerk to the corridors of Condé Nast and the galleries of MoMA. Between tender and humorous reminiscences, including affectionate portraits of Richard Avedon, Robert Hughes, and Jeff Koons, among many others, Gopnik discusses the ethics of ambition, the economy of creative capital, and the peculiar anthropology of art and aspiration in New York, then and now.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By S. Elder on 09-16-17
Brush up contemporary visual artists first
Adam Gopnik is an insightful and engaging writer. He took us to Paris once. This time he invites us on a trip with him and his wife Martha, through SoHo in the 1980's- From the minuscule flat, where the foam rubber bed had to be folded up during the day, where he flambed and sauted and braised his way through some favored French cookbook to the 1500 square foot loft, awash in vermin of every kind.
He goes through a series of jobs, and ends up writing for the New Yorker. He visits and travels with his good friend photographer Richard Avedon. Along the way he was an art critic and is therefore conversant the visual art scene of the time. Those of us in the hinterlands are out of that loop, but it's ok, it's still worth the trip.