Debut authors Jeremiah Moss (of the history Vanishing New York: How A Great City Lost Its Soul) and Tamara Shopsin (of the expert memoir Arbitrary Stupid Goal) both mention White’s classification system in recording their own versions of New York. Shopsin, born in what she calls “the matter-of-fact best place on earth,” considers White’s essay fact, but identifies an omission: The transplant New Yorker “knows they can live somewhere else. … The first New Yorker has no such reservoir.”
Shopsin’s personal bedrock is her 1970s and ’80s upbringing on Greenwich Village’s Morton Street, where she and a clutch of siblings helped run what they all call “The Store,” the first location of Shopsin’s, her family’s diner. The diner showcased her family’s particular habits: The menu had more than 900 items and a sign above the counter read ALL OUR COOKS WEAR CONDOMS. As far as Shopsin is concerned, it was a wonderful place to grow up. “None of us saw working at The Store as a chore,” she writes, and this is largely because of its regulars. New York is the container for the author’s familial and neighborly love—form-imposing like a pie tin. Her world recalls how Jack Kerouac described New York: “New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets.” As Shopsin puts it: “‘The nutrients of New York City are in the fringe people.’ I was brought up to believe this.”
Moss’s Vanishing New York is a history of how “wholesome” and corporate America caulked over the dark cracks and corners that once distinguished New York’s spirit, life, and community from the rest of the country’s. The book is an effortful reference for how New York morphed from a syncretic collection of diasporas—both extra-national and of the identity and mind—into a bland sovereignty of the mega-rich. Moss often tries to sound curmudgeonly, but is clearly heart-struck and psychically reliant upon New York’s wild singularity, which he believes is stocked by small businesses like Shopsin’s family’s. His love and devotion to New York and its people is clear both from the book and from his dutiful work on a blog of the same name, where since 2007 he has painstakingly archived a once-familiar New York as it’s flensed one small business at a time.