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Lillian Boxfish takes a walk / Kathleen Rooney.

By: Rooney, Kathleen, 1980-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London, England : Daunt Books, 2017Description: 276 pages ; 20 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781911547013; 1911547011.Subject(s): City and town life -- New York (State) -- New York -- Fiction | Interpersonal relations -- Fiction | Older women -- Fiction | Reminiscing -- FictionGenre/Form: Domestic fiction.Summary: "In my reckless and undiscouraged youth," Lillian Boxfish writes, "I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street ..." She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy's to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, "in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it." Now it's the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It's chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now--her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl--but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed--and has not. A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop. Lillian figures she might as well take her time. For now, after all, the night is still young"-- Provided by publisher.
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"In my reckless and undiscouraged youth," Lillian Boxfish writes, "I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street ..." She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy's to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, "in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it." Now it's the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It's chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now--her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl--but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed--and has not. A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop. Lillian figures she might as well take her time. For now, after all, the night is still young"-- Provided by publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Once the highest paid female copywriter in the country, Lillian (Lily to her friends, Lils to her faithless mate) is intelligent, witty, and rather wonderful. On this New Year's Eve of 1984, at 85 years of age, she strolls the streets of her Manhattan, recalling what it used to be like; how she made her mark on the world as a copywriter for Macy's and writer of best-selling Dorothy Parker-like books of verse; how she fell like a boatload of bananas for a handsome heel; and how she became a loving if uneager mother. She has written well and been well paid, fought for the rights of women in the workplace, has known too much drink and her share of despair. But she survives. While her frequent perambulations reveal a New York that has changed irrevocably, Lillian lives with the hope that her greatest love, the city, will rise again. There is a melancholy behind her words, and reader Xe Sands voices poignancy, old age, wit, and youthful snark beautifully, although with a few mis-pronunciations VERDICT Reminiscent of Amor Towles's Rules of Civility; listeners won't be blamed for wanting to return to Lillian Boxfish's New York. Magical.--Ellen Abrams, Library Journal © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Inspired by Margaret Fishback, poet and Macy's ad-writing phenom of the 1930s, Rooney imagines an extraordinary walk through the streets of New York City on the last night of 1984, one that triggers a flood of memories for fictional ad woman Lillian Boxfish. The octogenarian muses on the changing urban landscape as she stops at favorite haunts: an intimate neighborhood bar that's just installed a TV, a restaurant where she's dined every New Year's Eve that's about to change owners, the famed Delmonico's, where she ended her marriage. Further stops include a changing lower Manhattan landscape where she meets a haunted Vietnam veteran and engages him in a "best last-line contest," a detour to a hospital emergency room with a frightened woman about to have her first baby, and a party where she's both scorned and adored by a new generation of artists, followed by a hilarious encounter with three muggers. Meanwhile, Lillian carefully recounts her celebrated career in advertising, her adored husband and son, and her emotional breakdown. Elegantly written, Rooney creates a glorious paean to a distant literary life and time-and an unabashed celebration of human connections that bridge the past and future. Agent: Lisa Bankoff, ICM Partners. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Glamorous and ambitious Lillian Boxfish was celebrated in front-page articles in 1931 as the highest paid advertising woman in America. She was also famous for her best-selling books of wryly irreverent light verse. One secret to her success was her love of New York City and her devotion to daily walks. Now 85 and still venturing out on foot in all seasons and still in full possession of her gift for pithy, droll, and mischievous language (Solutions of style have a greater moral force than those of obligation), Lillian decides to celebrate 1984's New Year's Eve by dining as she does every year at a favorite restaurant, then walking through the city to attend a party to which she was invited by a young photographer she met in the park. On this reckless odyssey, mink-clad Lillian is both embraced and accosted by strangers, all while contemplating the changes the years have brought to her and her beloved city. Poet and novelist Rooney (O, Democracy! 2014) found sublime inspiration, thanks to a librarian friend, in real-life ad writer and poet Margaret Fishback. Her delectably theatrical fictionalization is laced with strands of tart poetry and emulates the dark sparkle of Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Truman Capote. Effervescent with verve, wit, and heart, Rooney's nimble novel celebrates insouciance, creativity, chance, and valor.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

A poet and writer of clever, innovative ad copy, Margaret Fishback was admired in her timethe preMad Men erabut is mostly forgotten now. Rooney (O, Democracy!, 2014, etc.) has written a lively, fictionalized version of Fishbacks story, drawing on real milestones but imagining her subjects inner life.Rooneys Lillian Boxfish comes to Manhattan in 1926 to make her mark. A smart, stylish, independent young woman, she lands a job at R.H. Macys, where she turns out witty rhymes that promote the department store; on her own, she writes light verse, eventually published in several volumes. Though a self-styled scoffer at love, Lillian falls hard for Max Caputo, the head rug buyer at Macys. They marry, but when she becomes pregnant with their son, Johnny, she's forced to quit her jobmaternity leave being a thing of the future. The marriage eventually fractures, and Lillian suffers a mental breakdown. Intercut with this narrative is the more fanciful story of Lillians adventures on New Years Eve 1984. An old woman now, she roams the streets of Manhattan alone, passing landmarks public as well as private and befriending several New York characters (all too benevolent to be believed) along the way. The city is in declinethe Subway Vigilante is on the loosewhich Lillian seems to equate with her own fall from grace. But the chance encounters lift her spirits, helping her come to terms with her past. While the book effectively underscores the fierce struggles of career women like Lillian in a pre-feminist time, it can also feel schematic. And Lillians dialogue is sometimes too arch, too written, to be credible. There is plenty of charm and occasional poignance here even if the novel makes you long for a proper biography of the real woman who inspired it. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.