"Before and After: Stories From New York vividly captures the fissure of a place suddenly and utterly transformed... It's hard to imagine a more appropriate or more moving collection of voices."
--San Francisco Chronicle
This is a book of true stories about New York, written, for the most part, by the people for whom the city is the stage set for their lives. Some of the voices to be found in its pages are those of well known writers - Michael Cunningham, Jeannette Winterson, Phillip Lopate, Luc Sante, Megan Daum, Sam Lipsyte, Thomas Beller - and many more are from people who may not even consider themselves writers, but who were tempted by the 'Tell Mr. Beller A Story' button on the critically acclaimed website, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, where all these pieces originally appeared. Taken together these essays, reportage, and vignettes are a testament to the vitality, diversity, and complexity of New York City at the turn of the century.
In August, 2001, the book was about to be sent to press. After several months of publishing stories in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the book went to print at the end of the year. And so this single book now has two covers, two halves. One is comprised of tales intimate, sad, immediate, and funny, the city in its diverse complexity before 9/11. The other half is focused on testimonials from the events of that day and the immediate aftermath, including Bryan Charles' the widely anthologized account of his escape from the Towers, "The Numbers."
"Brief and memorable epitomes of the urban encounter: a transporting collection."
"Its 60+ stories are all tightly wound and cleanly written... they're emotionally engaging, they're clear, they're direct... It's a heartbreaker of a book."
"The essays are gorgeous, alternately sad and funny...(a) richly human collection"