Rules of Civility

A fascinating novel.

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Amor Towles’s novel, set in late-Depression era New York is fascinating. It starts with a flash forward to the sixties where the narrator is attending a Walker Evans New York show of the latter’s great subway pictures, and recognizes a friend in one. Not once, but twice. The first image is of the man destitute, the second, a few years earlier, at the height of his wealth in the Roaring Twenties before the Depression.

Major sections of the book are illustrated with Evans’s subway portraits, clandestinely taken and some of the best work he did.

The novel tells the story of the wealthy and their lifestyle, seemingly unaffected by the Depression, insured by inherited wealth. But things can, and do, go wrong. It’s illustrated with the same Walker Evans’s images and strongly recommended.