Going Into Town; A Love Letter to New York, by Roz Chast, multi-award-winning New Yorker cartoonist, was born of an attempt to explain the geography of Manhattan to her suburban-raised, city college-bound daughter: “If you want to go from 52nd to 55th street… you have to walk THREE BLOCKS UPTOWN!” Her daughter responds, “What’s a block?” Chast draws her face expanding into a deranged expression, distorting into an almost Manhattan-shaped form, her yellow hair exploding over the panel borders, her eyebrows elevated so far into her forehead they look like horns. Lines animate her quivering body.
Chast explains in the accompanying text, “I wanted to introduce her to Manhattan and didn’t want them to ‘get off on the wrong foot’.” In my favourite image in this volume, all major players are drawn: Chast, her daughter and Manhattan. Manhattan, delightfully profiling a long green nose of Central Park, stands slightly uncertainly, pink arms and feet dangling, next to the nonchalant, hands-in-jeans-pockets of Chast’s daughter – two awkward peers left alone in a room for the first time. This is Chast’s world of humorous autobio-geographics, where whimsy and fascination, and a deep love of the city, are dosed with textual and visual (parental) anxiety.