2 out of 4 stars
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My Thirty Years in New York City is a memoir written by John Joseph Strangi. I was interested in reading this book because I have never been to New York and thought that his story would give me some insight into what it is like there. I was also drawn to the black and white photographs that are on the cover of this book. One of the images on the cover shows a tombstone that is dated September 9, 1953, to June 13, 2003. I assumed that the author did not pass away in 2003, since he wrote this memoir, and was curious to know the significance of that specific date. I decided to start reading this book to find out what happens to Strangi on June 13, 2003.
Strangi was originally from Dallas, TX and became interested in acting once he started performing in high school plays. This inspired him to audition for professional plays, and that is when he realized that he wanted to pursue an acting career. He moves to New York from Dallas after high school to attend acting school. He talks about many Broadway shows and the actors that he meets, such as Dionne Warwick, Tony Bennet, and Audrey Hepburn. It was exciting to read about how he met these actors, but I have never heard of some of the other actors that he spends many pages talking about. I could not relate to his excitement during those encounters. I was also unfamiliar with many of the Broadway shows that influenced his acting career. He talks about the actors and shows, assuming that every reader would already know about them and would understand his excitement. To my disappointment, he does not mention much about New York City, other than the bars and restaurants where he would hang out to network with other actors. That is when I realized that this book would not reveal much about living in New York City, and would resonate more to readers who are interested in becoming actors. I would recommend this book to readers who are very familiar with the history of Broadway shows, or for those who grew up in the seventies and would feel nostalgic about reading about this era.
Strangi talks about all the odd jobs he took to pay the bills and how he moved to different areas of the city to make ends meet. He faces many obstacles, but he is so focused on becoming an actor and does not see any other career fit for him. I admire his determination to audition for many different types of roles even when things are not working out for him as he planned. His story became more interesting to me once he revealed the well-known television shows and movies that he was in.
This memoir is written in a journal-like style, in the present tense. Strangi was very thorough in expressing his thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it was awkward to read so many details that could have been left out. For example, when he expresses his excitement about his last year in high school, "It's my last year in high school. I'm a senior at last. Wow! This is cool!" It felt unprofessional when he would write down every single thought and emotion as he talks about his experiences. I felt that it could have been written in a way that would flow better and not seem like he is just saying every expression that come to his mind. His journal-like style feels like you’re listening to someone talk, and after a while, you sense that they will go on forever with too many details instead of getting to the point of their story.
I give this book a 2 out of 4 rating because although there were no spelling or grammatical errors, I felt that it could be edited better to leave out many of his random thoughts. Memoirs can be very engaging with personal insights, but his thoughts and emotions dragged the chapters on and did not have much significance to his stories. It was interesting to read about his life as he was struggling to become an actor and finding out what happens to him in his final chapter, 2003. I do not think that it was written well enough to engage a wide range of readers. This book would be most interesting to readers who could relate to the struggles of pursuing an acting career, and who are curious to see if they could learn anything from this memoir to relate to their own lives.
My Thirty Years In New York City
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