A Coney Island Reader

Through Dizzy Gates of Illusion

Edited by Louis J. Parascandola and John Parascandola

Columbia University Press

A Coney Island Reader

Pub Date: December 2014

ISBN: 9780231165730

360 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $26.95£22.00

Pub Date: December 2014

ISBN: 9780231165723

360 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $79.50£66.00

Pub Date: December 2014

ISBN: 9780231538190

360 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $25.99£22.00

A Coney Island Reader

Through Dizzy Gates of Illusion

Edited by Louis J. Parascandola and John Parascandola

Columbia University Press

Featuring a stunning gallery of portraits by the world's finest poets, essayists, and fiction writers--including Walt Whitman, Stephen Crane, José Martí, Maxim Gorky, Federico García Lorca, Isaac Bashevis Singer, E. E. Cummings, Djuna Barnes, Colson Whitehead, Robert Olen Butler, and Katie Roiphe--this anthology is the first to focus on the unique history and transporting experience of a beloved fixture of the New York City landscape.

Moody, mystical, and enchanting, Coney Island has thrilled newcomers and soothed native New Yorkers for decades. With its fantasy entertainments, renowned beach foods, world-class boardwalk, and expansive beach, it provides a welcome respite from the city's dense neighborhoods, unrelenting traffic, and somber grid. Coney Island has long offered a kaleidoscopic panorama of people, places, and events, creating, as Lawrence Ferlinghetti once wrote, "a Coney Island of the mind." This anthology captures the highs and lows of that sensation, with works that imagine Coney Island as a restful resort, a playground for the masses, and a symbol of America's democratic spirit, as well as a Sodom by the sea, a garish display of capitalist excess, and a paradigm of urban decay. As complex as the city of which it is a part, Coney Island engenders limitless perspectives, a composite inspiring everyone who encounters it to sing its electric song.
A Coney Island Reader brings together a vibrant collection of voices that chronicle and critique Coney Island's extraordinary history from its formation to its most recent phase of revitalization, with all the glow and glitter of Luna Park. Michael Immerso, Author, Coney Island: The People's Playground
An amazing Americana anthology of Coney fact-fiction-poetry-tabloid news and government propaganda, many pieces obscure, a few famous yet so hard to find all bound together in what now becomes the definitive and best beach book read about the Island that invented beach leisure. Dick Zigun, Artistic Director, Coney Island USA
The ever-contradictory nature of Coney Island is brought to light in this collection of literature from some of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries' most prominent writers. Publishers Weekly
A Coney Island Reader is a wonderful collection of fiction and nonfiction, poetry and journalism, memoirs and official government reports accompanied by evocative photographs and illustrations. The cover alone captures the essence of the place: fun, chaotic, unpredictable. June Sawyers, Chicago Tribune
Coney Island might seem an unlikely muse, but in a city that has always been home to writers of all stripes, the seaside enclave has consistently driven pen to paper, fingertips to keyboard. Annaliese Griffin, Brooklyn Based
An overdue anthology that vividly paints Brooklyn's seaside playground in psychedelic prose and poetry. Sam Roberts, New York Times
A comprehensive anthology of writings on a unique place in Brooklyn.... A must-read compilation for anyone who has ever visited Coney Island at least once if not many times and has fond (or perhaps not-so-fond) memories of this important landmark attraction. Library Journal
If one is interested in the history of Coney Island, A Coney Island Reader is a must. Raanan Geberer, Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From Nathan's Hotdogs and the Wonder Wheel to end-of-season gloom and recession, Coney sings the bright and dim electric song of Brooklyn's iconic peninsula. This literary anthology unfolds the layers of the unique destination while enhancing the experience with historical photos. World Literature Today
List of Illustrations
Foreword, by Kevin Baker
Acknowledgments
A Note on the Text
Selected Chronology of Coney Island
Introduction
The Beginnings Through 1896
["Clam-Bake at Coney Island"], by Walt Whitman
"Coney Island", by Charles Dawson Shanly
"To Coney Island", by William Henry Bishop
"Coney Island", by José Martí
"Coney Island's Failing Days", by Stephen Crane
"Coney Island", by Julian Ralph
The Era of the Three Great Amusement Parks, 1897–1911
"Marvelous Coney Island", by Guy Wetmore Carryl
"Human Need of Coney Island", by Richard Le Gallienne
"Boredom", by Maxim Gorky
"The Master Showman of Coney Island", by Peter Lyon
"Amusing the Million", by Frederic Thompson
"The Way of the Girl", by Belle Lindner Israels
"Why Is Coney?", by Reginald Wright Kauffman
"The Coney Island Excursion", by Kathy Peiss
Samantha at Coney Island and a Thousand Other Islands, by Marietta Holley
"Coney Island", by Sara Teasdale
"The Greater Coney", by O. Henry
Dreamland, by Kevin Baker
"In Dreams Begin Responsibilities", by Delmore Schwartz
"Sunday", by Robert Olen Butler
"Ruins Help Draw 350,000 to Coney", by New York Times
The Nickel Empire: Coney in Transition, 1912–1948
"The Tingling, Tangling Tango as 'Tis Tripped at Coney Isle", by Djuna Barnes
New Cosmopolis, by James Huneker
"Human Nature with the Brakes Off—Or: Why the Schoolma'am Walked into the Sea", by Edward F. Tilyou
"Coney", by Giuseppe Cautela
"Coney Island", by E. E. Cummings
"Landscape of a Vomiting Multitude (Dusk at Coney Island)", by Federico García Lorca
"A Day in Coney Island", by Isaac Bashevis Singer
"Into the Night Life", by Henry Miller
Now and Then, by Joseph Heller
The Electric Michelangelo, by Sarah Hall
Attachment to a Letter to Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, by Robert Moses
"To Heaven by Subway", by Fortune
Coney, by Amram Ducovny
"Stranger at Coney Island", by Kenneth Fearing
The Years of Decline and the Hope of Rebirth, 1949 to the Present
A Coney Island of the Mind, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The Warriors, by Sol Yurick
"Coney Island in November", by Josephine W. Johnson
"My Son the Murderer", by Bernard Malamud
"Mayor Blasts TA Brass on Coney Island Debacle", by George Todd
"Kwan's Coney Island", by Edward Hoagland
"Coney Island 1969", by Edwin Torres
"Coney Island", by Colson Whitehead
"A Coney Island of the Mind", by Katie Roiphe
"City Planning Begins Public Review on Rezoning of Coney Island", by New York City Department of City Planning
"Comments on the Revised Draft Scope of Analysis for Coney Island Rezoning Project", by Municipal Art Society
"Confessions of a Coney Island Sideshow Performer", by Donald Thomas (Donny Vomit)
"A Coney Island of the Mind", by Maureen F. McHugh
Appendix: Coney Island in Movies and Music

Read Kevin Baker's foreword to A Coney Island Reader

About the Author

Louis J. Parascandola is professor of English at Long Island University. He is the editor of "Look for Me All Around You": Anglophone Caribbean Immigrants in the Harlem Renaissance and coeditor of In Search of Asylum: The Later Writings of Eric Walrond.

John Parascandola taught at the University of Wisconsin–Madison before serving as chief of the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine and as Public Health Service Historian. He is the author of The Development of American Pharmacology: John J. Abel and the Shaping of a Discipline and Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America.