Past the hustle and bustle of midtown, sheltered from the squawks of taxis and tourists, lies a quiet little block near Central Park kept humble by rent control. Cathleen Schine's brilliantly funny novel shows us how living on a street like this in New York with a dog is like living in a tiny village, one that has a rhythm all its own.
Walking her dog, Beatrice, Jody falls under the spell of Everett's bewitching smile. Everett begins to appreciate his post-divorce life only when he falls in love with Howdy, Polly's puppy. Polly lives with her brother, George, who isn't looking so much for a love life as for life direction, and Howdy leads him right to it. Doris hates the trash on her block, she hates the pee on her SUV's large tires, and, above all, she hates dogs. That is, until she gets one of her own.
In The New Yorkers, as in life, canine companions compel their masters to go outside of themselves, to take part in the community they live in, to make friends, and sometimes, to fall in love.
Schine dispatches a love letter to New Yorkers and the dogs who own them in her seventh novel (after She Is Me), an ensemble novel centered on an Upper West Side street. Jody, a lonely 39-year-old musician/music teacher who's lived in the same rent-controlled studio since college, rescues a pit bull mix named Beatrice from the ASPCA. After eight months of blissful pet ownership, Jody bumps into divorced 50-year-old Everett while walking Beatrice and falls in love with the stranger after he shoots her a smile. George, a 28-year-old waiter, moves into the neighborhood when his younger sister, Polly, rents an apartment in Everett's building and acquires the puppy left behind by the last tenant. (He hanged himself; she names the pup Howdy.) Down the street live Simon, a reclusive social worker whose only joy in life is foxhunting, and Doris, an embittered, prep-school guidance counselor with no love lost for pooches. Orbits slowly begin to overlap as winter gives way to spring and then the summer of the 2003 blackout an event that sends a few characters in unexpected directions. It may not play as well west of the Hudson, but the hometown dog-run crowd will find this heartfelt tribute curiously endearing.