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Mumbai New York Scranton: A Memoir

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An extraordinarily moving memoir from an iconoclastic new talent—an artist, cook, and New York Times illustrator whose adventures at home and abroad revealed the importance of living life with your eyes wide open. An extraordinarily moving memoir from an iconoclastic new talent—an artist, cook, and illustrator whose adventures at home and abroad reveal the importance of liv An extraordinarily moving memoir from an iconoclastic new talent—an artist, cook, and New York Times illustrator whose adventures at home and abroad revealed the importance of living life with your eyes wide open. An extraordinarily moving memoir from an iconoclastic new talent—an artist, cook, and illustrator whose adventures at home and abroad reveal the importance of living life with your eyes wide open. Best known for her witty illustrations, and as a cook beside her mischievous father in her family’s legendary Manhattan restaurant, in Mumbai New York Scranton, Tamara Shopsin offers a brilliantly inventive, spare, and elegant chronicle of a year in her life characterized by impermanence. In a refreshingly original voice alternating between tender and brazen, Shopsin recounts a trip to the Far East with her sidekick husband and the harrowing adventure that unfolds when she comes home. Entire worlds, deep relationships, and indelible experiences are portrayed in Shopsin’s deceptively simple and sparse language and drawings. Blending humor, love, suspense—and featuring photographs by Jason Fulford—Mumbai New York Scranton inspires a kaleidoscope of emotions. Shopsin’s surprising and affecting tale will keep you on the edge of your seat.


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An extraordinarily moving memoir from an iconoclastic new talent—an artist, cook, and New York Times illustrator whose adventures at home and abroad revealed the importance of living life with your eyes wide open. An extraordinarily moving memoir from an iconoclastic new talent—an artist, cook, and illustrator whose adventures at home and abroad reveal the importance of liv An extraordinarily moving memoir from an iconoclastic new talent—an artist, cook, and New York Times illustrator whose adventures at home and abroad revealed the importance of living life with your eyes wide open. An extraordinarily moving memoir from an iconoclastic new talent—an artist, cook, and illustrator whose adventures at home and abroad reveal the importance of living life with your eyes wide open. Best known for her witty illustrations, and as a cook beside her mischievous father in her family’s legendary Manhattan restaurant, in Mumbai New York Scranton, Tamara Shopsin offers a brilliantly inventive, spare, and elegant chronicle of a year in her life characterized by impermanence. In a refreshingly original voice alternating between tender and brazen, Shopsin recounts a trip to the Far East with her sidekick husband and the harrowing adventure that unfolds when she comes home. Entire worlds, deep relationships, and indelible experiences are portrayed in Shopsin’s deceptively simple and sparse language and drawings. Blending humor, love, suspense—and featuring photographs by Jason Fulford—Mumbai New York Scranton inspires a kaleidoscope of emotions. Shopsin’s surprising and affecting tale will keep you on the edge of your seat.

30 review for Mumbai New York Scranton: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    “Before the surgery the dentist asked, ‘Is the laughing gas working?’ I asked back, ‘How do you know if it’s working?’ The dentist replied, ‘Do you feel different than you did five minutes ago?’ I became hysterical and said, ‘I always feel different than five minutes ago.’”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ynna

    Mumbai New York Scranton is a charming and endearing book. I loved it. I read this book while my husband is in Mumbai and told him "I am traveling with you in my book." Tamara Shopsin's writing is unpretentious, simple, and genuine. I laughed out loud many times while reading. Her sentences are so concise, I was constantly impressed by how much I learned and felt like I experienced something from her life from such a small amount of writing. I loved reading about Tamara's relationship with Jason Mumbai New York Scranton is a charming and endearing book. I loved it. I read this book while my husband is in Mumbai and told him "I am traveling with you in my book." Tamara Shopsin's writing is unpretentious, simple, and genuine. I laughed out loud many times while reading. Her sentences are so concise, I was constantly impressed by how much I learned and felt like I experienced something from her life from such a small amount of writing. I loved reading about Tamara's relationship with Jason and the idiosyncrasies of their marriage. I love New Yorkers writing about New York. Shopsin includes pictures and illustrations on every other page which were funny and relevant to the story. By the end of the book, I really wanted to go on a double date with Jason and Tamara. There is an old Italian grocery near the Lincoln Tunnel. Jason circles the block. I enter the sandwich shop at the same time as a redheaded woman. An old lady behidn the counter greets us. "What do you want?" she asks. "A sandwich to go," I say. The redhead says she is jsut looking. The old woman tells the read head, "That's not what this place is for." The redhead continues to look around. The old woman tells her to leave, to get out, to scram. The redhead protests. "Why can't I just look around?" "It's a deli," I say, "not a museum." That is my father's line. I'm surprised to hear it come from my mouth. This shop is a museum. It looks straight out of 1900 and reminds me of the store I grew up in. The redhead is taken aback. The old woman behind the counter glows and thanks me sincerely. She makes my sandwich and asks if I'm from New York. I tell her I am. "I knew it," she says. ---- I think of Johnny Appleseed wearing a cooking pot for a hat. When I was six, I wrote a story about him. I finished the book with "The And." I as treated like a prodigy. My dad would show the last page of the book to friends and strangers. He'd say it was wiser and more elegant than anything eh'd ever read. That there is no end to any story. One never has a full awareness of death. And even when you do die the earth goes on, and the children have children. Space cetainly doesn't have an end, only an "and." ---- "It is physical. It really is," I say and start bawling. Jason hates it when I cry. Not in a sweet "Don't wanna see you cry, honey" way. More in a "That isn't going to help anything" Spock way.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Dinaburg

    Except for things I don’t plan on experiencing personally, I don’t read reviews until I’ve read or eaten or watched the subject matter. Other impressions tend to color my opinions, if only a little; I tend to maintain my own opinion once I’ve formed it, but if I haven’t yet decided what I feel about something, other interpretations tend to override the creation of my own view. For similar reasons I try to avoid reading back covers, dust jackets, Netflix synopses—I know I am going to read the boo Except for things I don’t plan on experiencing personally, I don’t read reviews until I’ve read or eaten or watched the subject matter. Other impressions tend to color my opinions, if only a little; I tend to maintain my own opinion once I’ve formed it, but if I haven’t yet decided what I feel about something, other interpretations tend to override the creation of my own view. For similar reasons I try to avoid reading back covers, dust jackets, Netflix synopses—I know I am going to read the book or watch the episode and I’d rather not try to predict how the episode or book is going to unfold based upon the cursory data I’ve gleaned from the summary. I try not to be obnoxious about it; I don’t run screaming from the room with my fingers in my ears when someone is talking about the finale of Breaking Bad, though I’ve apathetically stalled on the series at least a half-dozen times since it began. I saw The Sixth Sense three or four years after release and had no idea it was built to be a vehicle for a “twist,” let alone what that twist was. I simply prefer to know nothing about games, books, shows, and movies beforehand. I typically won’t even look at a restaurant menu until I’ve sat at the table. Mumbai New York Scranton was recommended to me by my dad in June of 2013. He didn’t tell me anything about it. Which I appreciated. It took me a long time to finally get a copy. Eighteen library books came and went while I watched my place in the queue tick down: thirteenth on three copies; eighth on three copies; fifth on three copies. It sat on my library request page for over eight months. I’d been seeing a thumbnail image of the cover for three quarters of a year—the familiarity may excuse, or at least explain, why I skipped the dust jacket blurb. I knew I was going to read it, because my dad suggested that I do. The book itself didn’t have any work to do, besides show up. Waiting for Mumbai New York Scranton had become its own thing—I emailed a cut & paste of the library’s image files every few weeks to my dad as a gentle reminder that I hadn’t brushed off his recommendation, that there were six people who had to borrow it before I could. I constructed narratives about the three lucky people that had copies—where they worked, where they read, what I would do if I spotted the book out in the wild: “Hey, could you read a little faster, please?” or “Oh, I’m waiting for that book! Please don’t read it aloud!” Spending that much time with something—not actually with it, but with your manufactured image of what it will be—creates some idiosyncrasies. It becomes the fussy faucet that houseguests can’t get to stop dripping but you have grown so accustomed to you don’t even see it anymore, can finesse it without conscious thought. I’d built a story of what the story would be: why my dad recommended it to me; what tied the three cities together—I grew up an hour-plus from Scranton and have been there dozens of times. Perhaps there’s some small-town wistfulness, some insight I’m intended to uncover? I now live in Manhattan, so perhaps the “New York” portions would have bits that he thinks I can relate to? He is right: We pass a sign that says “Triborough Bridge Renamed RFK Bridge.” I freak out. Why would the city rename a bridge everyone knows? The name isn’t even debatably offensive, like the Tomahawk Chop. Unless the city now finds logic offensive. “It goes over three boroughs!” I shout. So I’m not looking for absolution—only filling in context—when I say I started this book with a lot of baggage. I thought it was fiction. I was trying to guess what my dad wanted from it, what the author was trying to give to me. I had months to think about it, to concoct my version of events from only the small .jpg of the avocado and lime green cover with the sketch of the hand, wearing a watch and holding thorny roses. I expected a bittersweet romance: “I start bawling. Jason hates it when I cry. Not in a sweet “Don’t wanna see you cry, honey” way. More in a “That isn’t going to help anything” Spock way.” Mumbai New York Scranton does not tell that story. I’m not sure where I was in the book when I first caught of glimpse of the word “memoir.” I was startled to see that it was real. The story felt too focused, too concise to be real. Much of modern fiction eschews the smooth polish of a tight narrative to focus on weighty text, replete with ambiguities, to emulate the vast and incomprehensible formlessness of reality. Unmoored fiction flutters from scene to scene, promulgating its reality on being unanticipatingly strange, unexpectedly startling—nonnarrative, like life itself. So if Mumbai Scranton New York wasn’t a memoir, it might be taken by some to be too tightly woven to be strong modern fiction; too seamless to reflect our actual reality of undesigned, meaningless absurdity. Once you’ve squared your mind with the fact that it is, in reality, a memoir, it’s time to figure out what type: its title is Mumbai, so you know it’s a travel memoir. It’s Scranton and New York, too, so maybe not. When you’re at the point you figure it out, Mumbai New York Scranton takes your breath away. It happens, and you aren’t prepared for it, because it actually happened. Is still happening. To the author, because it a direct account of her life: Riding over the Brooklyn Bridge, people smile at me but don’t move out of the way. They are posing for a picture. The cap to my bell was stolen. It no longer has a reason to exist. I part the crowds by chanting “Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle,” as if I am selling a frozen treat on a stick. The bike veers left and almost takes out a Chinese couple. I apologize and continue on like a pilot with engine failure. The twist—the moment when everything falls into place and what happened before suddenly makes sense on more levels than you thought possible—might not be a shock to you. Perhaps the person that suggested the book to you told you what type of memoir it was. Perhaps you read someone else’s review. You can’t know it’s coming from synopsis because someone wisely excised it, though I imagine it was a protracted battle with the marketing department since it would be a good bulletpoint. But if you were caught unawares, it simply has to be fiction. The story had to have been plotted out on a big dry erase board—bright red strings hanging between sections—outlining hidden connections the reader will not—cannot—work out until later. The foreshadowing is so obvious that you never see it. And, after the revelation, you don’t need to reread the book because the author reminds you of what this new revelatory information does to everything that came before. I don’t know if knowing there’s a twist will diminish its weight. It might. It doesn’t matter. The writing is enough, even without the plot—the reality—to drive the reader. The perspective is singular: The last time Minda picked me up off a corner was after I got my wisdom teeth pulled. I was barefoot holding my shoes in one hand and waving at her with the other. I was grinning ear to ear, surprised and overjoyed to see her. I was high on laughing gas and anesthesia. Before surgery the dentist asked, “Is the laughing gas working?” I asked back, “How do you know if it’s working?” The dentist replied, “Do you feel different than you did five minutes ago?” I became hysterical and said, “I always feel different than five minutes ago.” The third largest public library system in the world has three copies in circulation. Three people at a time can experience a story that is too perfect to be good fiction. It is a peerless memoir.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca 📚 Rubenstein

    Wow, did not expect to love this book as much as I did. Tamara’s writing is charming and endearing and I gobbled this memoir up in one day.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    I got this out of the library because I thought it was a graphic memoir, and because Scranton is in the title (I have a lot of family from that area and was born near there). Turns out it is something a little different than a graphic memoir and there is not too much of Scranton in it. In a way, it's a strange format and concept for a book, and in a way, well, it's simply a memoir about illness with photographs and drawings -- the photographs by Shopsin's husband Jason Fulford and the drawings b I got this out of the library because I thought it was a graphic memoir, and because Scranton is in the title (I have a lot of family from that area and was born near there). Turns out it is something a little different than a graphic memoir and there is not too much of Scranton in it. In a way, it's a strange format and concept for a book, and in a way, well, it's simply a memoir about illness with photographs and drawings -- the photographs by Shopsin's husband Jason Fulford and the drawings by Shopsin. So it's something of a graphic memoir I suppose. Or a memoir with some graphics. The first half is a kind of travelogue about a trip to India but after that it's no longer a travelogue. Brooklyn and Scranton are places where they have homes. The title I'm not sure about. Aside from India the places aren't really the focus. Illness is the focus. I found the book compelling but I don't know how much I liked it. I saw recently that someone has a goodreads bookshelf just for books they feel ambivalent about. I liked that. While I read the book, especially the second half, I felt as if a friend were telling me a story about her illness. There's a kind of intimate talking storytelling feeling and I liked that. And I was interested in the medical stuff and the stuff about her work (she's a cartoonist/illustrator - here's an NYT article with collaborative images by Shopsin and fulford http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/mag...). There's just a way the book didn't feel even or whole to me. It was really cool, though, in the beginning of the book, to learn that she is one of the daughters of the Shopsins of the documentary "I Like Killing Flies." I saw that documentary at a film festival when it first came out and loved it. And there are scenes in the book where she's cooking there. And it's neat to read about a family I already feel I know a bit. So, well, for me this book is interesting as a memoir about illness. I felt a bit uncomfortable reading about their travels in India and enjoyed the second half of the book much more than the first.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jade Lopert

    This book should really have a warning on the cover: This is what it's like to be an entitled white American in India and then the hospital where you are clearly better and more important than anyone else. Seriously, a memoir should make someone likable. Not make you feel like you'd rather never, ever meet them, because they have too much smug hipster American tendencies. That last, that's what this book makes you feel like. I struggled to even have sympathy for the medical plight she found hersel This book should really have a warning on the cover: This is what it's like to be an entitled white American in India and then the hospital where you are clearly better and more important than anyone else. Seriously, a memoir should make someone likable. Not make you feel like you'd rather never, ever meet them, because they have too much smug hipster American tendencies. That last, that's what this book makes you feel like. I struggled to even have sympathy for the medical plight she found herself in and I'm an insanely empathetic person. Maybe because it felt like it didn't affect her so much as just annoy her that it was taking time out of her day. Eh. Really, just pass on it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christina Cummings

    My partner and I read this book aloud to each other, perfect due to Shopsin's simple, short phrasing. She came across as non-girly, which I really appreciated. But sometimes it bothered me when she seemed be going along for the ride with her partner in India, not making any of the plans, and also ignoring the fact that she was getting more and more ill. Such a unique childhood, growing up in a greasy diner helping her mom and dad churn out perfect pancakes and whatever else they decided to put o My partner and I read this book aloud to each other, perfect due to Shopsin's simple, short phrasing. She came across as non-girly, which I really appreciated. But sometimes it bothered me when she seemed be going along for the ride with her partner in India, not making any of the plans, and also ignoring the fact that she was getting more and more ill. Such a unique childhood, growing up in a greasy diner helping her mom and dad churn out perfect pancakes and whatever else they decided to put on the menu for that day. I enjoyed her relationship with her twin sister. We watched a video of Shopsin and her partner discussing each other's art work and photography after finishing the book; such an interesting pair, perfectly matched. I'm glad there are people like those two in the world, taking time to observe the everyday stuff.

  8. 4 out of 5

    mikhaela

    (3.5) i'm always partial to books about travel when i'm on the road. i enjoyed mara shopsin's voice, though the short sentences felt a bit stilted. the illustrations and photographs were a nice touch. (3.5) i'm always partial to books about travel when i'm on the road. i enjoyed mara shopsin's voice, though the short sentences felt a bit stilted. the illustrations and photographs were a nice touch.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Received through Goodread's First Reads giveaways. Ok, I really wanted to like this book. In the end, it wasn't for me (or at least the first half wasn't). I found the narrative style jarring. The book reads like a journal of sensory perception, with an occasional tangent and wit thrown in. The author spends approximately the first half of the book in India, but I felt I had no sense of place. A reader can picture some very detailed, specific places in the book—the hotel that looks like 1943, for Received through Goodread's First Reads giveaways. Ok, I really wanted to like this book. In the end, it wasn't for me (or at least the first half wasn't). I found the narrative style jarring. The book reads like a journal of sensory perception, with an occasional tangent and wit thrown in. The author spends approximately the first half of the book in India, but I felt I had no sense of place. A reader can picture some very detailed, specific places in the book—the hotel that looks like 1943, for example. But India is said to be so foreign, confusing, beautiful, that I would have like a bit more of a consensus on culture or landscape or anything. When I imagine this part of the book, I see Shopsin, looking frail in a nondescript city surrounded by Indians, rather than India itself and the adventures she had there. Then again, perhaps it was hard for her to give us a full account of the country because she was very sick. This detail, while it turns out to be extremely important, comes off as whining, especially because of the amount of times she mentions it (if you don't want to read about puking, don't read the book—it's a very prominent feature). That being said, I loved the second half of the book. Shopsin and her husband return to New York and Scranton to resume their normal lives. Her writing works better here: because I don't need a sweeping account of American lifestyle (I already live it), I can better appreciate the details picked out of her day, rather than wondering what she is not telling us and what I am missing. The reader gets a beautiful sense of her family dynamic, especially when it is threatened. This piece of the memoir is poignant and moving. So overall, three stars. I think people who enjoy her writing style won't mind it so much in the beginning of the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Lee-Tammeus

    I started this book last night at about 11 PM. Fell asleep around 1. Loved this book so much, did not get out of bed after waking up around 5, until I finished it. I have been super fortunate to have read some fantastic books this year, but this book captured me like no other. It is a nonfiction book written in beautiful clipped sentences that explain the life of a quirky, incredibly talented illustrator and her equally talented photographer husband traveling through India. They are not the pret I started this book last night at about 11 PM. Fell asleep around 1. Loved this book so much, did not get out of bed after waking up around 5, until I finished it. I have been super fortunate to have read some fantastic books this year, but this book captured me like no other. It is a nonfiction book written in beautiful clipped sentences that explain the life of a quirky, incredibly talented illustrator and her equally talented photographer husband traveling through India. They are not the pretentious couple you may think. They are incredibly down to earth, loving the nooks and crannies of life and appreciating the things that others may simply overlook. They are overwrought with talent that they simply take for granted - this is the life they lead. While I read, I kept thinking they are not tourists, they are embracers of life. This is not a typical book - there are photos and illustrations that add to the narration that create a no nonsense beauty to this book I have never come across before. Toward the middle, something amazing is discovered that stops it all and as much as I want to tell, I just can't - it would ruin everything. There is a fabulous documentary called I Liked Killing Flies (on Instant Netflix) I saw a few years ago about a rough and tumble NY diner that is run by a big, gruff teddy bear. Turns out this is the author's father and she tends to help out in the family restaurant on occasion (which she humbly never mentions any connection - I had to do some digging). This just added to the quirkiness of this writer and how eccentric and fabulous her world is. I am so glad to have discovered her. There are so many phrases from her book that I want to rewrite here to prove how talented this writer is, but the best option is to just read it yourself.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    A combination of travel journal and tales from the hospital bed, and it's superb. It is not only the adventure, but the way Tamara Shopsin's tells the tale. She writes with minimal sentences, but with maximum meaning. Her travels through out India captures not only the country, but also her personality and how she perceives that experience in such an enlightened manner. Tamara and her husband the noted (and fantastic) photographer Jason Fulford go to India with a pair of fresh eyes (her's) and a A combination of travel journal and tales from the hospital bed, and it's superb. It is not only the adventure, but the way Tamara Shopsin's tells the tale. She writes with minimal sentences, but with maximum meaning. Her travels through out India captures not only the country, but also her personality and how she perceives that experience in such an enlightened manner. Tamara and her husband the noted (and fantastic) photographer Jason Fulford go to India with a pair of fresh eyes (her's) and a desire to return to an area or memory (his). Fulford noticed the changes, and Shopsin sees India on a first time basis. I really identify with this because I have taken friends to places that i greatly admired, but either the place has changed or I have changed, and I wasn't aware of it. There is physical traveling and then there is mental travel, and both are conveyed quite well in this book. Shopsin noticed that she was feeling ill in India but thought it was due to the traveling, but it was something serious. But this is not a woe me story, but an adventure narrative of sorts, and I started reading it this morning and i couldn't put it down till I finished. The book also has images by Fulford, which if you know his work, is quite mysterious as well as witty. He is the perfect traveling companion and his documentation of the trip is wonderful. But we also get Shopsin's illustration through out the book, and she is known for her drawings for publications such as the New York Times. Her imagery is great as drawings, but also in words. A great upbeat book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lorri Steinbacher

    Spare but chock full. What Shopsin chooses to reveal is brought into relief but what she chooses to leave out. Great example: Jason leaves her in their hotel room in Mumbai to try and rent a motorcycle, when he returns she writes: "Jason wakes me up. He rented a motorcycle from a ten-year-old boy and he has stories to tell.". In any other memoir, you'd get a story. In Shopsin's you get the suggestion--and to me it's better than explication. Shopsin's an illustrator, she is used to showing a stor Spare but chock full. What Shopsin chooses to reveal is brought into relief but what she chooses to leave out. Great example: Jason leaves her in their hotel room in Mumbai to try and rent a motorcycle, when he returns she writes: "Jason wakes me up. He rented a motorcycle from a ten-year-old boy and he has stories to tell.". In any other memoir, you'd get a story. In Shopsin's you get the suggestion--and to me it's better than explication. Shopsin's an illustrator, she is used to showing a story, not telling it. The short chapters, the snippets, the suggestion were like wordy illustrations. Loved it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    After the joy ride that was WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE, I needed this. A gently written memoir that allows you to know it's author, the code writer/cook/designer Tamara Shopsin and her photojournalist husband Jason Fulford. There are photos and illustrations tossed in and her style is very much like an open journal. Simple, sparse but well chosen words glided me along. Now here's the deal: you MUST rent the documentary about her family's infamous NYC restaurant Shopsins. The doc is called I LIKE After the joy ride that was WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE, I needed this. A gently written memoir that allows you to know it's author, the code writer/cook/designer Tamara Shopsin and her photojournalist husband Jason Fulford. There are photos and illustrations tossed in and her style is very much like an open journal. Simple, sparse but well chosen words glided me along. Now here's the deal: you MUST rent the documentary about her family's infamous NYC restaurant Shopsins. The doc is called I LIKE KILLING FLIES and gives you all the backstory you'll need to understand a deeper dimension of this cool little book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    Tamara Shopsin's clear-eyed and moving account of her travels to India and subsequent illness & recovery is beautifully written and utterly lacking in self pity. She is an abundantly gifted storyteller, and I hope we hear more from her soon. A deeply compelling, funny, and charming memoir. Tamara Shopsin's clear-eyed and moving account of her travels to India and subsequent illness & recovery is beautifully written and utterly lacking in self pity. She is an abundantly gifted storyteller, and I hope we hear more from her soon. A deeply compelling, funny, and charming memoir.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kyusik Chung

    Captivating. I think it was more meaningful for me because we frequented Shopsin's (The Store) when we lived in the neighborhood. But even if you don't have that real world connection, this is a charming memoir that makes you love the relationships that Mara has with her husband and her family. Captivating. I think it was more meaningful for me because we frequented Shopsin's (The Store) when we lived in the neighborhood. But even if you don't have that real world connection, this is a charming memoir that makes you love the relationships that Mara has with her husband and her family.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Very stark and simple writing underscores - dare I say - the "journey" this author takes both physically and mentally. Accompanied by interesting photographs and some drawings, this graphic design illustrator tells a compelling story that only starts as a travelogue. Recommended. Very stark and simple writing underscores - dare I say - the "journey" this author takes both physically and mentally. Accompanied by interesting photographs and some drawings, this graphic design illustrator tells a compelling story that only starts as a travelogue. Recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Harren

    I was at first put off by the seemingly choppy writing style, but made myself sit down with it when I ran out of things to read away from an Internet connection. So glad I did, because I loved this. A really moving and enjoyable book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Peter Knox

    Shopsin's memoir (or travel diary, or scrapbook) is simply delightful, all the more so because I can place myself in India, in PA, and certainly in the New York featured in her book. She makes these places come alive with her illustrations and her partner's photographs, as they travel through each noting the local characters they meet, the food they eat, and how they work together (doing freelance commissioned art for editorial features mostly). So it's as much a travel guide or a how-to find fo Shopsin's memoir (or travel diary, or scrapbook) is simply delightful, all the more so because I can place myself in India, in PA, and certainly in the New York featured in her book. She makes these places come alive with her illustrations and her partner's photographs, as they travel through each noting the local characters they meet, the food they eat, and how they work together (doing freelance commissioned art for editorial features mostly). So it's as much a travel guide or a how-to find forced inspiration on deadline for made art and a relationship tale, as they work and live and love together along the way. It feels light, and inconsequential, no matter the obstacle or challenge thrown in their way, they always find a way out... but then a health matter turns things serious and even though you know (spoiler - she writes more books!) she's not going to die, you have to find out how - just how do they come together to survive and be stronger as a result. Her latest, Arbitrary Stupid Goal, was one of my favorite books last year and one of my favorite New York books of all time. Here poetic prose develops very nicely in this earlier book, but I suggest you read ASG first to fully appreciate her backstory before you get thrown into her travels in this book. They're fun fast read and deeply empathetic without being overwrought heavy, even when dealing with heavy stuff. Highly recommend.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chantel Nygaard

    I enjoy sparse, unpretentious writing but I found Shopsin’s writing to be dull. The first half of the book chronicles Tamara and her husbands trip to India and she essentially just discusses how she throws everything up (related to a health issue, revealed later in the book) and makes comments that rubbed me the wrong way/made she and her husband seem like rude, privileged white travellers: “A group of young boys asks Jason to take there photos. Jason says no and walks away.” “A young man approac I enjoy sparse, unpretentious writing but I found Shopsin’s writing to be dull. The first half of the book chronicles Tamara and her husbands trip to India and she essentially just discusses how she throws everything up (related to a health issue, revealed later in the book) and makes comments that rubbed me the wrong way/made she and her husband seem like rude, privileged white travellers: “A group of young boys asks Jason to take there photos. Jason says no and walks away.” “A young man approaches us and says, “Do you have an American quarter for my collection? United States capital: Washington, DC. United States President: Barack Obama. We ignore him.” During the latter part of the book, Tamara receives a nearly instant diagnosis and is slated for surgery immediately (because of some family connections). Again, the privilege was so glaringly obvious, I couldn’t look past it. And when she’s having her sutures taken out, she recounts a ‘comical’ (read: racist) comment made by her nurse: “You know what’s the worst? Asians. Their hair looks just like sutures. You don’t know which is which”. Overall, the book is not worth the praise it’s received and mostly read like the journal of a whiny, white woman. Bleh.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I've started reading books that take place where I'm traveling. So far, I have been very pleasantly surprised by the memoirs I have found this way: The Futilitarians (New Orleans), My Life, My Body (Cape Cod), and this book for Scranton. Definitely a different format than I'm used to, but a great book. I've started reading books that take place where I'm traveling. So far, I have been very pleasantly surprised by the memoirs I have found this way: The Futilitarians (New Orleans), My Life, My Body (Cape Cod), and this book for Scranton. Definitely a different format than I'm used to, but a great book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    Sam Sifton (NYT Cooking Section) highly recommended this book. Great recommendation! Tamara writes of her experiences in India and arriving back home to NYC and their Scranton home so vividly that one can’t help but keep turning the pages to the end. I couldn’t put the book down once I started it. You will LOL at some parts and not at others. Tamara’s illustrations are wonderful. One can’t help but enjoy her and her family. I will definitely read her other books.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ann Fisher

    I really enjoyed this book. It began as a sort of quirky travelogue which was engaging enough, and then moved to New York City and Scranton for more of the author's life in the U.S. (all of us who are Calvin Trillin fans of course loved the scenes set in her family's restaurant) and then turned into something else entirely that I was not prepared for. But it was great too. I also liked bits of her illustrations that show up throughout. I really enjoyed this book. It began as a sort of quirky travelogue which was engaging enough, and then moved to New York City and Scranton for more of the author's life in the U.S. (all of us who are Calvin Trillin fans of course loved the scenes set in her family's restaurant) and then turned into something else entirely that I was not prepared for. But it was great too. I also liked bits of her illustrations that show up throughout.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Virginia

    I loved this book. Read almost straight thru, while a fast read it is not a light read. The writing style was very slice of the moment stuff. It stars off as a travel book and morphs into a very moving account of a brain tumor. I want to read everything Shopsin has written. She seems quirky, artsy and totally charming. A wonderfully child like personality.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sara Catherine

    For me, this book was a love story. A love story to travel, to India, to her husband, to New York, to Scranton and to life. It's written like a diary about seemingly inconsequential things, but I was hanging on every word. Super easy to digest and I found the entire book charming and heart-wrenching at the same time. Big fan. For me, this book was a love story. A love story to travel, to India, to her husband, to New York, to Scranton and to life. It's written like a diary about seemingly inconsequential things, but I was hanging on every word. Super easy to digest and I found the entire book charming and heart-wrenching at the same time. Big fan.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessie Scott

    Fun, humorous account of the author’s trip to India and the events that followed, which really spoke to me: “On the wall is a poster from a drug company. It lists famous people with epilepsy: Napoleon, Isaac Newton, Julius Caesar, and Socrates. The poster kind of makes me want epilepsy.”

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sage

    Quirky people are my favorite and this memoir follows someone who I found interesting and a joy to read about. It was quick and easy to read and I found myself picking it up whenever I had the chance.

  27. 5 out of 5

    James

    I just love her style so much. I don't have much to say about the books I read anymore, but Tamara's style is very endearing to me. Some sort of mash up of John McPhee, David Markson, and Kimya Dawson. I just love her style so much. I don't have much to say about the books I read anymore, but Tamara's style is very endearing to me. Some sort of mash up of John McPhee, David Markson, and Kimya Dawson.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Josephine

    Re-read after years and it was just as enjoyable, if not more so. Laughed, cried, kept making my boyfriend listen to my favorite passages. Quick and joyful read I'll make a point of continuing to come back to. Re-read after years and it was just as enjoyable, if not more so. Laughed, cried, kept making my boyfriend listen to my favorite passages. Quick and joyful read I'll make a point of continuing to come back to.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    Inspiration, creative energy, perplexing story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katie Jo Kellerman

    Mumbai New York Scranton I liked the style of writing. Nice, quick, easy read. I liked her other books as well, good book. Would recommend

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