Low Life


A cacophonous poem of democracy and greed, like the streets of New York themselves.
—John Vernon, Los Angeles Times

This highly original work reads like the reminiscences of a raconteur who knew everyone, was there in the midst of it all himself, and, even when telling stories of the deadliest dives on the Bowery, makes you wish you had been there too.
—Michelle E. Hammer, Newsday

It is to New York what Dickens, all of Dickens, is to London: a bringing to life of the city itself, a portrait of all its foibles, follies, and fervors, peopled with flesh-and-blood caricatures who are our hidden ancestors, our cultural reference points, and our political and social predecessors…. What this book teaches us is that the past is both gone forever and very much still with us.
—Wendy Lesser, East Bay Express

It proceeds by the accumulation of anecdote and telling detail, rendered in prose that delights the reader with constant felicities. The narrative is replete not only with wit but with feeling…. No brief summary can do justice to the scope and richness of Sante’s chronicle.
—Jim Holt, Philadelphia Enquirer

One may quarrel with the implicit argument of Low Life, about what both New York and low life represent, but as literature it is a tour-de-force. Sante has developed a particular, lacquered prose style…aphoristic and matter-of-fact, that serves his purposes magnificently…. Low Life long remains in the imagination.
—David Rieff, Times Literary Supplement