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.

July 26: On this day in 1602 "A booke called the Revenge of Hamlett Prince Denmarke" was entered in the Stationers' Register by printer James Robertes.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).