The City?s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York's Destruction

In the seven years since 9/11, New York has been treated to periodic threats from a wide assortment of pious lunatics, promising death and destruction to Gotham equal to 100 World Trade Centers. In City?s End, Max Page beats them all walking away: chapter after chapter, the reader watches a city reduced to rubble magically regenerate itself with the turning of the page, only to be smashed to pieces again on the next -- though the devastation is usually confined to Manhattan between the Battery and 59th St., few artists or directors having troubled themselves to imagine the effect of an ultimate ruction in, say, Park Slope, Brooklyn. The book records nearly instance of New York in ruins from film, radio, television, and fiction of the last two centuries. The authors of catastrophe range form Stephen Vincent Benét to Steven Spielberg, and their agents include -- but are not limited to -- fire, water, Germans, something called a wolven, Gene Hackman, and the moon. It?s an extraordinary Domesday book of doomsdays, even if there?s little methodology to its madness; this is a flat-out catalogue, illustrated throughout with prolapsed Statues of Liberty (seven in all) and ravaged Wall Streets (three), but Page doesn?t sort through the wreckage long enough to find much meaning. What he does do, however, is commendable: like I. N. Phelps-Stokes? Iconography of New York in reverse, City?s End is the definitive chronicle of New York?s unmaking.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."