Up in the Old Hotel
By Joseph Mitchell

Mitchell was a writer for The New Yorker, and this is a collection of essays and stories about New York City in the early to mid-20th century. Most of the people he profiled were ordinary New Yorkers—like an old Staten Islander recalling the oyster business in that area—but through his writing, they become the most fascinating characters. I did a movie about Mitchell with my friend Stanley Tucci called Joe Gould's Secret. (Gould was one of Mitchell's subjects.) What I love most about this book is that the city it portrays has all but vanished from the one I live in now.


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