This is not the mythic Manhattan of bright lights and glitz. It is called Manhatten and it is wonderfully out of kilter. In this mixed-genre book (fiction, poetry, review), Sarah Rosenthal layers headlong, voice-driven prose with silent, otherly poems to tell a story of an island where relationships are disturbed yet meaningful and luminous.
Proudly misspelled, Manhatten chronicles the adventures of a young woman as she searches for her life story in the ultimate American metropolis. The heroine--who may or may not be author Sarah Rosenthal--leads the reader into one scene after another filled with family, friends, chance acquaintances, exes, and current love interests, where relationships and geography intertwine and memories collect on every street corner. As keen and insistent as the city it describes, this writing attains a clarity fueled by hunger for insight and language's tonal responsiveness. Spanning two coasts, leaping whole decades in a single clause, Manhatten documents the rush of events and the meditative spaces between, negotiating a life complete with all its enchantments, illusions, intersections, and collisions.
I like Sarah Rosenthal's Manhatten because it's generous with self. Also alarmingly well written. And best of all, Manhatten awkwardly and beautifully makes the claim that heterosexuals are human too!
Sarah Rosenthal grew up in Chicago and lives in San Francisco. She is the author of three chapbooks: How I Wrote This Story (Margin to Margin, 2001), sitings (a+bend, 2000) and not-chicago (Melodeon Poetry Systems, 1998). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals and have been anthologized in Bay Poetics (Faux Press, 2006) and hinge (Crack Press, 2002). She has taught creative writing at Santa Clara University and San Francisco State University. She has edited a collection of interviews entitled A Community Writing Itself: Conversations with Vanguard Writers of the Bay Area. She is the recipient of the Leo Litwak Award for Fiction and grant-supported writing residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Ragdale Foundation.