by Maeve Brennan
with an introduction by Sinéad Gleeson
published 25 January 2024
‘It was a weekday, an ordinary morning, business hours drawing near, but the evanescent appearance of the square said that anything might be about to happen – an operetta, a harlequinade, a pantomime, a fantasy…’
In these delightful, melancholy prose sketches Maeve Brennan goes in pursuit of the ordinary, taking us on a tour of the cheap hotels, unassuming restaurants, and crowded streets of New York City.
Brennan presents herself as The Long-Winded Lady, solitary wanderer and wry observer of the human comedy. Whether she is riding the subway, failing to eat broccoli in a restaurant or watching lovers quarrel in Washington Square, Brennan captures the wavering spectacle of the metropolis with an uncanny precision that makes these slight essays at once hallucinatory and hyperreal.
Originally written for The New Yorker between 1954 and 1981 and presented here in full with a new introduction by Sinéad Gleeson, these pieces reveal Maeve Brennan to be one of the twentieth century’s most accomplished documentarians of city life, and one of its finest essayists.