“The Slaves in New York” by Tama Janowitz

08Feb05

I was not particularly impressed by this story. I mean, it was okay, but not great.

Janowitz seemed to be connecting the powerlessness that the rent prices and unavailability of living space in New York City cause with the powerlessness that women used to experience in daily life. (Before they were married, they were slaves to their father and after they were slaves to their husband.) An interesting concept but not well executed. Using a woman as the main character made the plot feel a little tired and clichéed. Had a man been the main character and been put into this powerless position I would have been more interested. Mikell was in the same situation as Eleanor, but the reader did not see Mikell’s day-to-day experiences. One cannot know if Mikell was forced into a traditional housewife role as Eleanor was to keep his living space with Millie. (Somehow, I doubt it.) Millie, like Stash, simply kept Mikell on a short leash and didn’t allow him to associate with other women.

The “pinch me” anecdote….Bah!

The ending felt heavy-handed, with Eleanor telling her friend that she would become a slave to Bruce if she moved to New York to live with him. It was as if Janowitz didn’t trust her readers to figure out the significance of the title themselves.

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