In The City


In the City: Random Acts of Awareness

Who is telling the story? Where does the story take place? How does the story begin? How else could the story have ended?

Winner of the PEN / Jerard Fund Award

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“This book is one of a kind: a view straight through the stone and steel, an x-ray of the city’s consciousness. Colette Brooks writes like someone telling a secret.”

– Luc Sante

“A silken meditation … Brooks’ carefully etched and wistful prose echoes that of such master necromancers of the city as Borges, Calvino, or Auster”

– Booklist

“Colette Brooks, with In the City, invents a kaleidoscope of prose that shocks and stirs the urban heart. ‘In the city,’ Brooks reflects, ‘once the unlikely has occurred, it seems inevitable.’ So do the eye and memorable voice of Colette Brooks.”

– Lois Gould (PEN/Jerard Fund Award citation)

“In the City is a lively mix of narrative, catechism, reportage, memoir, and meditative essay. This is an engaging book, so fraught with self-consciousness as to bring into question our notions of writing and literary structure.”

– Billy Collins

“I’ve read In the City three times and expect to read it again. In lovely, exact prose Colette Brooks has fixed her experience of urban life with insight and compassion and humor and a sense of the encompassing mystery.”

– Stanley Kauffmann

“What a bright, enchanting, radiant new voice! Through Colette Brooks’s eyes – and her gorgeously crafted prose – I see my beloved city anew, and discover it all over again.”

– Jay Neugeboren

“The modern city, never more so than now, needs its intimate observers and quirky chroniclers. It needs passionate walkers and devoted eavesdroppers, collectors of disparate facts, images, and impressions. Colette Brooks’s portrait is fragmented, edgy, tough-minded, unabashedly affectionate – a vivid reminder of a love affair that began with Whitman and Crane.”

– John Loughery

Facts about New York City, both obscure and interesting, are interspersed among the vignettes of metropolitan life and observations about the world at large. The subtitle, Random Acts of Awareness, beautifully captures the chance occurrences that are the soul of the book: a snippet of conversation here, an ironic piece of news there. As the narrator examines her life, she also examines the ebb and flow of the city itself. The reader is drawn into the current of the story and carried along effortlessly. Although finished before September 11, 2001, the universality of her themes resonates particularly strongly. In the end, the reader comes away pleasantly contemplative. I recommend this short, richly imaged winner of the PEN/Jerard Fund award – regardless of whether or not the reader thinks of herself or himself as a “city person.”

– The Virginia Quarterly Review