‘New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009’

New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009 by Teresa Carpenter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Frequently borders on the delightful.

This is, you know, a collection of diary excerpts from some famous and some not-so-famous people, all of which are written in or about New York and organized by month. Gems abound, like H. L. Mencken’s complaining about the boorish antics at a party of Dashiell Hammett, and Andy Warhol’s bemused decision to attend a party that television was reporting he was already at. And the poignant reflections on the numerous tragedies that have visited New York, e.g. great fires, the sinking of the Titanic and looming largest of all, 9/11. But the collection is pocked with clunkers only a diarist could love — the monosyllabic George Washington can still use an editor — and redundancies like the first seaborne view of the harbor that charm only a few times. And there simply are too many missed opportunities to connect dots among diarists.

The enduring conclusion I have is that, while this was done well, it could have been so much better.

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