Book review: Why We Came to the City

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American novels exploring young people's post-collegiate life in New York City is a well-trod road. They're snapshots of a time and place as much as human stories, and Why We Came to the City provides a sense of what being young and living in Manhattan was like when life, and the economy, bottomed out. At the center of Why's circle of five friends is Irene, artist and gallery worker, whose radiance draws them together and whose illness upsets their tenderfooted dreams about what the future should be. Kristopher Jansma, A&S '03, does not always flesh out his occasionally flat characters, but he makes up for it with stylistic anomie, ably evoking how the most populous city in America can feel like the loneliest place on earth.