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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen…

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

by Kathleen Rooney

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5675025,728 (4.05)111
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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Kind of a literary walk around Manhattan from the jazz age to 1985.The writing is witty, but not too much. The character of Lillian is delightful. ( )
  EllenH | Dec 30, 2018 |
Read this as a Buddy Read on Litsy and enjoyed it very much. 85 year old Lillian Boxfish was the highest-paid advertising woman in the country. New Year's Eve 1984 and Lillian is on a 10 mile walk around the city meeting and talking with lots of people. This book allows you to experience everything Lillian does on her walk. She talks about things from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic, the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop. This is a very humorous and sad book at the same time that should not be missed! ( )
  EadieB | Dec 12, 2018 |
Lillian Boxfish was once the most famous and highest paid woman in advertising. She was also a famous poet. The now 84 year old Lillian is a flâneur. Flâneuse? She likes to take long walks around New York City. The story takes place on New Year's Eve, 1984. As Lillian walks, making stops for drinks, dinner, shopping, a party and getting mugged, she thinks about her years in advertising, her wild single days, her marriage, her divorce, her son and grandchildren, and her suicide attempt.
I thought the story was charming in parts. 1984 New York City was accurately portrayed. I didn't like Lillian. Lillian is a catty bitch who judges other women on their appearance and clothing but likes to pretend that those things don't matter. I think part of the reason I liked the book was because Lillian lives in a neighborhood that I had visited for the first time ever -- and I moved to NYC in 1971- just the day before I started reading the book.

There in the bathroom, certainly, I felt well past tears, and made a point of not meeting my own eyes in the mirror. The minute you see yourself you're forced out of your head and into your body, forced to reckon with yourself as a thing that takes up space in the world, that others can see and react to, that has a story with a beginning, middle, and end that intersects with other people's stories. A mirror gives you perspective.

I am old and all I have left is time. I don't mean time to live; I mean free time. Time to fill. Time to kill until time kills me. I walk and walk and think and think. ( )
  VioletBramble | Nov 28, 2018 |
Lillian Boxfish is in love with Manhattan. She has lived in the city for the most of her life and has traversed the streets on foot for the most of that time. At eighty-five years old, Lillian takes a walk around Manhattan on New Year’s Eve.

It is not just a walk through the city. It is a walk through the many events of her life including her successful career in advertising, her marriage, her motherhood, and her divorce. As she makes her way around New York she also recalls the many changes that have occurred in the city.

She has no fear of walking alone through the desolated night streets. She is friendly to anyone she meets and she shows generosity and kindness to all. Lillian is in short a remarkably capable eighty-five-year old woman.

Lillian’s story is based on the life of Margaret Fishback. However, I believe that Rooney has created an extraordinarily interesting and likeable fictional character in Lillian with whom I would very much like to share a dinner and a conversation. ( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
Way more depressing and far less of a descriptive and and evocative walk through New York City than I expected. ( )
  ReadMeAnother | Nov 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Today, Chicago has its own literary flâneuse, Kathleen Rooney. Her new novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, is about an elderly woman who walks from midtown to downtown Manhattan and back on New Year’s Eve, 1984. But Lillian Boxfish isnt just any elderly woman, she’s a fictional version of Margaret Fishback, the real-life female Don Draper of 1940s advertising and an accomplished poet. And Rooney isn’t just any writer: she walks hundreds of miles every year, exploring cities on foot.

The book bounces around the 20th century and tackles themes of work, time, motherhood, and what it means to be truly in love with a city. It’s one of my all-time favorite New York novels, right up there with Winter’s Tale, Invisible Man, and The Golem and the Jinni. I recently spoke with Rooney about walking, writing, Fishback, New York, and Chicago.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kathleen Rooneyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sands, XeReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Fall 2016 Library Journal Editors' Pick "In my reckless and undiscouraged youth," Lillian Boxfish writes, "I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street..." She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy's to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, "in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it." Now it's the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It's chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now--her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl--but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed--and has not. A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop. Lillian figures she might as well take her time. For now, after all, the night is still young"--… (more)

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