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The Subway Stops at Bryant Park

a novel

N. West Moss

The Subway Stops at Bryant Park is a collection of short stories all set in, or around, Bryant Park in New York City. From a doorman who works near the park for 40 years to a woman obsessed with the hundreds of receipts she is given every day, the park is a microcosm of humanity in all its complexities. The old, the young, the tourists, the woman who wraps all of her things in Saran Wrap and then sits and listens to the live piano music. Life with all of its pathos and raucous beauty is captured through the glimpse into these characters’ lives. The elegiac tone of the book for a city that no longer exists is countered by the delight the characters take in the world that they find in the park. It is a world full of music and laughter and celebration, even though it has lost some of its humanity over the years.

A slim debut collection of stories that deftly slip into the lives of everyday New Yorkers.
Before it became the green-grassed oasis that it is today—complete with a skating rink and afternoon piano music—Bryant Park was crime-infested, run-down, and frequented by the less palatable denizens of the city. In this collection’s first story, "Omeer’s Mangoes," an Iranian doorman whose building borders the park witnesses the beginnings of its gentrification firsthand: “They were planning on lowering the park to ground level. Astonishing. Impossible. . . . 'If it’s not at eye level,’ Angelo explained to him, 'the police can’t look in. It’s like a secret world where all sorts of things can happen. You don’t want to know.' " But in the majority of Moss’ stories, which are set post-renovation, Bryant Park remains precisely that: a private, nestled microcosm of the city in which the vividly mundane scenes of lives play out among the plane trees. In the gorgeously nuanced "Beautiful Mom," a college-age woman is reunited with her stunning mother near the park’s “aggressively plain” Gertrude Stein statue, throwing into sharp relief both the mother’s effervescence and the narrator’s thrumming longing for her ultimately out-of-reach love. "Dubonnet" features an elderly widow who, encased in paranoia and rigidity, spurns her son’s family that lives with her—until the Bach playing at the park releases untapped sorrow from her husband’s death, leading her to view her family and surroundings in a new light. Moss’ first-person portrayal of the crotchety woman, who wraps her porcelain figurines in cellophane whenever she journeys to the park and nurses an irrational dislike for her daughter-in-law—“I don’t even like to say her name (which is Cynthia)”—is both funny and tender, one of the collection’s strengths. "Dad Died," which embodies the collection’s preoccupation with parental death, is more a melancholy love letter than story. . . . Moss’ ability to probe the rich, complicated depths of those the city views as ordinary—its doormen, library workers, waitresses, and bench-sitters—and capture the profound currents of emotion found in the everyday animates this collection and makes it uniquely illuminating.
Definitely worth reading.
—Kirkus

“‘Omeer’s Mangoes’ beautifully chronicles the adult life of its protagonist, an Iranian immigrant and doorman at a building near New York’s Bryant Park. Such a subtle, such a patient story. The effect is cumulative, quietly powerful, and by linking the stages of Omeer’s life—marriage, fatherhood, aging—to the restoration of and gradual changes to the park across the street from building where he works, N. West Moss has found a perfect metaphor, the connection between man and place as profound as any human relationship. Omeer is a proud and decent soul, despite his faults, and this story not only makes real but also does justice to one man’s life in his adopted country, our country, dear readers, represented here by a remarkable talent.”
Michael Knight, author of The Typist (selected for Oprah Winfrey’s summer reading list and as the Oprah Winfrey Book of the Week) as well as Divining Rod.  His work has appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker and elsewhere.

“West Moss’ lyrical collection of stories is beautifully held together by deft observations of city life combined with great sensitivity to the humanity beating beneath it all.”
Brad Gooch, a long-time New Yorker, is the author of Smash Cut, and Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, as well as a New York Times bestseller.

“For years the stories of Mavis Gallant in The New Yorker that focused on Paris were among the best published in English during the latter part of the 20th century. In her own way, N. West Moss explores New York City and particularly Bryant Park in ‘Omeer’s Mangoes’ as Omeer struggles to find some significance in his rather ordinary life. The last word of this story, “Incredible,” sums up how incredibly well conceived and written this story is.” 
Patrick Samway, S.J., Professor Emeritus of English at St. Joseph’s University. Former Literary Editor of America. He is the author of several books, including A Publishing Partnership: Flannery O’Connor and Robert Giroux (forthcoming), and Walker Percy: A Life.

“Exquisitely written and quietly powerful, The Subway Stops at Bryant Park introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters, each with a unique and compelling narrative, who are inextricably linked to Bryant Park — safe haven against the secrets, disillusionments, fears, and losses engulfing their lives.”
Patrick Perry, Executive Editor of The Saturday Evening Post

“Through N. West Moss’ kaleidoscopic lens, Bryant Park becomes a crossroads, a place where myriad lives meet and pass and reach out for one another, and the result is a series of luminous stories—luminous for their deep compassion, their concern for human struggles, their reverence for work and love and fortitude, and their delight in everyday human generosity. This is the kind of debut we need.”
David Ebenbach, author of Into the WildernessBetween Camelots, and The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy and other stories

“Moss’s stories capture a small slice of New York City with precision. Anyone having had the pleasure of seeing New York City transform from a derelict needle park of grime and crime into a sterile gentrified ice rink with $40 meals can appreciate the beauty of that old New York. Moss is a brilliant writer who engages us in a lost and a found corner of New York City.”
Ron Silver, owner, Bubby’s Restaurant, New York City

Stories in this collection previously published:

“Omeer’s Mangos” Published in The Double Dealer, 2015
“Sky View Haven” Originally appeared as “Eagle View Haven” in The Blue Lake Review, 2013; Republished in The Blotter, 2015
“Beautiful Mom” Originally appeared in The Westchester Review, 2013
“Lucky Cat” Published by Cahoodaloodaling, 2014
“Dubonnet” Published in The Stockholm Review, 2015
“Spring Peepers” Published by Prime Number Magazine, 2015
“Dad Died” Originally appeared in the anthology Grief: A Life in 5 Stages, 2014
“Dad Died” republished in Hospital Drive, 2015

About the Author

N. West Moss earned her BA, MA in education and MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, The Saturday Evening Post and elsewhere. Writing awards include the 2015 Great American Fiction Contest from The Saturday Evening Post, two Faulkner-Wisdom gold medals, and the Diana Woods Memorial Award for Creative Nonfiction from Lunch Ticket out of Antioch. West has taught literature at various universities, and formerly owned Bubby’s restaurant.

The Subway Stops at Bryant Park • N. West Moss

162 pages • ISBN 978-1-935248-91-0 • Trade paperback, $15.95 • e-Book available • Spring 2017

Published by Leapfrog Press LLC • www.leapfrogpress.com

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution • www.cbsd.com

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