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Summary

Summary

NOW A NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER

"Transporting...witty, poignant and sparkling."
-- People (People Picks Book of the Week)

"Prescient and quick....A perfect fusing of subject and writer, idea and ideal."
-- Chicago Tribune

"Extraordinary...hilarious...Elegantly written, Rooney creates a glorious paean to a distant literary life and time--and an unabashed celebration of human connections that bridge past and future.
-- Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed)

"Rooney's 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."
-- Booklist (starred review)

"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.


Author Notes

KATHLEEN ROONEY is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. She has been recognized as one of Newcity Lit 's "Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago 2016." Her precious work includes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Allure, Salon, The Rumpus, The Nation, the New York Times Book Review, the Poetry Foundation website, and the Chicago Tribune. Kathleen was named "Best Novelist" by the Chicago Reader in 2017. She is married to the novelist Martin Seay.


Reviews 3

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


Publisher's 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.


Library Journal Review

It's New Year's Eve 1984 and indomitable octogenarian Lillian Boxfish has places to go. Manhattan is her playground, and she's not going to let a subway vigilante or the winter chill keep her indoors. Outfitted in her beloved mink coat, which she bought for herself in 1942, Lillian briskly sets off from her Murray Hill apartment, reminiscing about her illustrious career as the highest-paid woman in advertising, her first love, Max, and her darling son, Gian. She joins a family of strangers at Delmonico's for dinner, charms a Filipino convenience store clerk, smartly tells off a boor at a trendy loft party, and unflappably transforms a mugging into a business transaction. Lillian's needle-sharp observations are astute and her unceasing love for New York City shines through. Her life has not always been breezy, but she keeps putting one fashionable foot in front of the other. -VERDICT Rooney (O, Democracy!) takes us on a delightful stroll with a colorful character, inspired by the life of poet and ad woman Margaret Fishback, sprinkling just the right details and arch bons mots appropriate to Lillian's reputation as a woman of words. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/16; Editors' Fall Picks 2016, LJ 9/1/16.]-Christine Perkins, Whatcom Cty. Lib. Syst., Bellingham, WA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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