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The Vertical City

Fannie Hurst

Book Overview: 

As the city above soars gloriously skyward, the denizens of the city writhe in its dirty underbelly.

The Vertical City is a collection of six short stories by Fannie Hurst (American). Each story, tells in gritty, dramatic style, of ugly inner city tragedy: unwed mothers, women doing what they need to do in order to escape poverty, or loneliness… A mother can literally give her life in the attempt to provide a better life for her child, and even then she may fail because her love, protection and guidance, cannot overcome the depravity of the environment.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .e than the quick rotation of her arm around with the spoke of a truck wheel, so quickly she went down.

It was almost a miracle, her kind of death, because out of all that jam of tonnage she carried only one bruise, a faint one, near the brow.

And the wonder was that Louis Latz, in his grief, was so proud.

"To think," he kept saying over and over again and unabashed at the way his face twisted—"to think they should have happened to me. Two such women in one lifetime as my little mother—and her. Fat little old Louis to have had those two. Why, just the memory of my Carrie—is almost enough. To think old me should have a memory like that—it is almost enough—isn't it, Alma?"

She kissed his hand.

That very same, that dreadful night, almost without her knowing it, her throat-tearing sobs broke loose, her face to the waistcoat of Leo Friedlan. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I really appreciated the variety of these stories. Ms. Hurst creates memorable characters and situations and uses them to show the many sides of the Vertical City. This was the first book I've read by this author--I'm more familiar with the movie versions of her novels--but I hope to find others.

A bunch of random short stories, very dated in some ways but not altogether bad. Just very average, and mostly around the same theme of unhappy marriages. OK overall, just not entirely my cup of tea.

The overarching theme of women facing social and economic discrimination has many minor themes contained within, but women facing and being unable to conquer madness is one that was referenced over and over which I found to be fascinating. Considering that Hurst was clearly showing the discriminatio