The New York Times/Dwight Garner
The most convivial and unorthodox history of New York City one is likely to come across. This book’s editor, Teresa Carpenter, a longtime Village Voice writer, has had the ingenious idea to comb through hundreds of diaries, written by the famous, the infamous and the unknown in New York, and to liberate these chronicles of their crunchiest and most humane bits. Read More
The New York Journal of Books/Darren Richard Carlaw
Hilarious as it is heartbreaking, New York Diaries is a must read for anyone who has fallen in love with the Big Apple. It is, in essence, a celebration of the complexity, beauty and chaos of New York City by means of capturing the voices of those who have repeatedly trodden its sidewalks. It will prove to be one of the most essential books when discussing the history of the living, breathing metropolis. Read More
NPR Books/Maureen Corrigan
As a bulwark against the January glums, the voices from the past we hear in these entries reassure us that we’re all part of a great cosmic parade, that restlessness and self-doubt have always been a constant of the human condition, and that tourists have been getting ripped off by New Yorkers ever since Henry Hudson stepped ashore in 1609. Read More
USA TODAY/Whitney Matheson,
New York Diaries compiles interesting diary entries from 1609 through 2009. It’s organized by day, so you could feasibly enjoy it all year long, reading the corresponding day’s entries each evening.
So far I’ve found the journals too compelling to put down, though. Carpenter mixes famous folks with the lesser-known, so you’ll see, say, a few sentences from Jack Kerouac next to words from a “precocious Victorian adolescent.” Read more.
For the past four centuries, New York City has been courted, confabulated, and cursed, in public and in private, by the millions of citizens who have called it home. New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009 is a remarkable feat of an anthology by Teresa Carpenter, culled from the archives of libraries, museums, and private collections to reveal a dimensional mosaic portrait of the city through the journal entries of the writers, artists, thinkers, and tourists, both famous and not, who dwelled in its grid over the past 400 years — easily the most dynamic and important depiction of the city since E. B. White’s timeless Here Is New York. Read More
NY POST/Susannah Cahalan
It took journalist Carpenter seven years to complete her book of diary entries from New Yorkers over 400 years. The result is as comprehensive as it is revealing, making the city come alive in its glamour and grime. She arranged the book by the month they were written, not by year, which allows for entries by George Washington to co-exist with those by Jack Kerouac. Though there are moments of heartbreak, hilarity prevails. “Arnold Schwarzenegger was having a party for the Statue of Liberty,” Andy Warhol wrote in 1986. “And I wasn’t invited. ” Read More
Three Guys One Book/Dennis Haritou
New York Diaries is edited by Teresa Carpenter who has done an excellent, sensitive job. The form is mathematically elegant and, I would think, an editor’s dream. TC presents the reader with a daily calendar of the year beginning with January 1st. Each day has one or several entries spanning a Verrazano of a time arc from 1609 until 2009. You can smell Teresa’s editorial panache. Read More
Enough tributes are made each year to the literary pulse of New York City to clog its arteries forever. But New York Diaries is an honest-to-goodness breath of fresh air. Or angioplasty, perhaps. Editor Teresa Carpenter has scoured public and private archives and personal diaries in order to reassemble the City in time. From the first European encounter up to the modern, post 9/11 era, each day of the year is represented in this destined-to-be-classic book.. Read More
Beth Kepart Books
The book is thick but doesn’t feel that way. Voices appear again and again—enchanting refrains. Dawn Powell, Walt Whitman, Theodore Roosevelt, Simone de Beauvoir. Andy Warhol. Small bits. Big bits. Love reached for. Love cast off. The dying of a cat. 9/11. Read More
Spiked Review of Books/ Nathalie Rothschild
The book certainly allows readers to indulge in nostalgia, to lament the passing of golden eras or to romanticise the mores of a sinful city. At the same time, though, the journal entries are also a reminder that even in Gotham, days can be mundane, sad and devastating. Cholera outbreaks, child prostitution and factory fires – the tragedies have been many. The insights into the city’s past residents are not always flattering, either. For instance, in 1861 the lawyer George Templeton Strong remarked on a book maintaining the right to hold slaves on religious and ethical principles: ‘It looks sound and sensible.’
Even so, what makes New York Diaries so compelling is that, as you read the 400 years’ worth of reflections, it feels like the layers of myth enshrouding the city slowly come off, only to reveal, still, a metropolis that fully deserves its nickname: the Capital of the World.
Encore Atlanta/Karl Schnittke
For students of history, New York Diaries reveals intimate, whimsical, profound, sobering and indelible portraits on such seminal moments as President Washington’s first State of the Union address, the death of Abraham Lincoln, the sinking of the Titanic, the end of World War II — even the first incursion of Europeans into the city’s Upper Bay on Sept. 11, 1609, some 402 years to the day before 9/11.
For transplanted New Yorkers, the many out-of-towners who make annual cultural pilgrimages there and those who long to experience a city unlike any other, New York Diaries is an indispensable bedtime companion. Every page is a delicious slice of the Big Apple.
Digital Journal/Cate Kustanczy
Carpenter has woven a rich, sometimes intimidatingly smart tapestry. If you’re not completely up on your history, you may find yourself making good use of the Who’s Who index at the back of the back, which is, in and of itself, a mighty showcase that testifies to the gloriously broad ambitions of the book.