At the Strangers' Gate

A memoir that captures the energy, ambition and romance of New York in the 1980s from Adam Gopnik.

Adam Gopnik

When Adam Gopnik and his soon-to-be-wife, Martha Parker, left the comforts of home in Montreal for New York, the city then, much like today, was a pilgrimage site for the young and the arty and ambitious. But it was also becoming a city of greed, where both life's consolations and its necessities were increasingly going to the highest bidder. At the Strangers' Gate builds a portrait of this moment in New York through the story of their journey — from their excited arrival as aspiring artists to their eventual growth into a New York family.

Gopnik transports us to their tiny basement room on the Upper East Side — the smallest apartment in Manhattan — and later to SoHo, where he captures a unicorn: an affordable New York loft. Between tender, laugh-out-loud reminiscences, including affectionate portraits of New York luminaries from Richard Avedon to Robert Hughes and Jeff Koons, Gopnik takes us into the corridors of Condé Nast, the galleries of MoMA and many places between to illuminate the fascinating world capital of creativity and aspiration that is New York, then and now. (From Knopf Canada)

From the book

On the morning I was to be married in New York, I went to a bookstore, as I always did in moments of crisis or bliss — until all the bookstores closed and you had to seek some comfort or inspiration somewhere in the ether, like a monk. There I found what I hoped would serve as an epigraph for our approaching wedding. It was from the eighteenth-century Japanese poet Issa, the most humorous and tender of haiku makers, and it ran simply:
The world of dew is 
a world of dew, 
but even so . . .

I grasped it at once, or thought I did, in all its pregnant simplicity, its simple bow and implicit enormity. Life passes, and it's difficult, but within it, pleasures and epiphanies arise — you marry the prettiest girl you've ever met in the greatest city on earth. Don't kid yourself — but maybe you can kid yourself a bit. 

From At the Strangers' Gate by Adam Gopnik ©2018. Published by Vintage.

Interviews with Adam Gopnik

The author and New Yorker writer on his memoir of love and life in New York City in the 1980s. 18:06

Other books by Adam Gopnik


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