In Arbitrary Stupid Goal, Tamara Shopsin takes the reader on a pointillist time-travel trip to the Greenwich Village of her bohemian 1970s childhood, a funky, tight-knit small town in the big city, long before Sex and the City tours and luxury condos. The center of Tamara’s universe is Shopsin’s, her family’s legendary greasy spoon, aka “The Store,” run by her inimitable dad, Kenny—a loquacious, contrary, huge-hearted man who, aside from dishing up New York’s best egg salad on rye, is Village sheriff, philosopher, and fixer all at once. All comers find a place at Shopsin’s table and feast on Kenny’s tall tales and trenchant advice along with the incomparable chili con carne.
Filled with clever illustrations and witty, nostalgic photographs and graphics, and told in a sly, elliptical narrative that is both hilarious and endearing, Arbitrary Stupid Goal is an offbeat memory-book mosaic about the secrets of living an unconventional life, which is becoming a forgotten art.
Praise for Arbitrary Stupid Goal
“Arbitrary Stupid Goal is a completely riveting world—when I looked up from its pages regular life seemed boring and safe and modern like one big iPhone. This book captures not just a lost New York but a whole lost way of life.” —Miranda July
“Tamara Shopsin's illustrations are instantly recognizable: economical, seemingly simple and straightforward, but always working on a few different levels. Tamara the person is similar: quiet but charming and warm and tough and determined. Now it turns out her prose is the same way: funny and playful but revealing, and making us see the world we thought we knew with fresh eyes.” —Christoph Niemann, author of I Lego N.Y.
“Tamara Shopsin’s new memoir is hilarious. Just in like the West Village itself, you zigzag along on a fun adventure, never knowing who you are going to meet. What a fun read!” —Amy Sedaris
“Tamara Shopsin’s memoir is a funny and absorbing portrait of the city in a grubbier, less corporate incarnation. If you believe, as she does—and I do—that New York is, ‘matter-of-fact, the best place on earth,’ then read this book. And if you don’t believe that, after you read this book, you will.” —Roz Chast
"[Shopsin] weaves a marvelous patchwork quilt of stories about a Manhattan that doesn’t exist anymore . . [Arbitrary Stupid Goal is] an artistic ode to a way of life that people now living in New York City might never experience." —Publishers Weekly (Pick of the Week, Starred Review)
"A warm evocation of a quirky life and exuberant times." —Kirkus
"Deeply nostalgic but not at all mawkish, Shopsin’s supremely charming and affecting memoir of growing up in a pre-gentrified Greenwich Village will enchant fans of restaurant lore and postwar New York historyalike. In short, impressionistic chapters illustrated with photos, ephemera, and Shopsin’s own adorably insouciant line drawings, the book conjures a vanished bohemia without any hint of the irritating pedantry that dogs so many of its kind. Shopsin’s parents—familiar to fans of the writer Calvin Trillin and those who’ve seen the documentary I Like Killing Flies—opened Shopsin’s General Store in 1973 and turned it into a restaurant shortly thereafter, one beloved by local weirdos, celebrities, models, artists, and everyone in between. Shopsin, who still works there sometimes, recalls her unconventional childhood and those who shaped it with considerable warmth; she pays special attention to her dad’s late friend, Willy, an outsize personality whom Shopsin cares for in his dotage. Gumball machines, meat slicers, Nazi bunkers, and pancake methodologies all make cameo appearances, much to the reader’s delight.— Eugenia Williamson, Booklist
Tamara Shopsin is a well-known cook at the distinctly New York City eatery Shopsin's, a New York Times and New Yorkerillustrator, and the author of 5 Year Diary and What Is This?, as well as the coauthor of This Equals That and Mumbai New York Scranton. She lives in New York City with her husband.
Thursday, July 27, 2017 - 7:30pm