No Longer and Not Yet


By Joanna Clapps Herman

Subjects: Fiction, Italian American Studies, New York/regional
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438450346, 232 pages, March 2014

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Table of contents

Roman Bath
Leaves and Brothers
And Not Yet
Asparagus Soup
Passing History
Bebopin’ Baby
News at 370 Riverside
Two Latins
Framing Darkness
Passed Over and Passed On
Hawk in the City
Taking an Incomplete
Tess Ensconced
Seeding Memory
Perfect Hatred
Love at the Door
Snow Struck
Something Essential
Questa è la Vita (This is the life)

Stories of small-town life on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.


The stories in No Longer and Not Yet look at the ways our lives are lived in the split seconds between what is no longer but is still not yet. Most take place on Manhattan's iconic Upper West Side, in the shops, hallways, and parks that reveal this well-known "big city" neighborhood for the tiny, even backwater village it more often resembles. An Upper West Sider herself, Joanna Clapps Herman draws her characters honestly yet tenderly, revealing them as much through how they move—the slope of a shoulder, a vocal inflection, the weight of a football—as by what they do, as though their bodies speak the truths they can't express.

Here, Hannah Arendt's ghost haunts the building where she once lived, a hawk carries the apparition of a lost loved one, a homeless woman becomes Demeter. Small moments and intimacies of life weave together to form a bigger picture: the squeak of the hotel bed, a leaf on a saucer, the quality of light in the therapist's office, the doorman's familiar jokes, the open cupboards, the unspoken words. These stories show that, although we may think of ourselves in larger mythic narratives, our days are set in the terrain that is the opposite of the vast.

Joanna Clapps Herman teaches creative writing in the MFA Graduate Program at Manhattanville College and at the Center for Worker Education, a division of City College of New York, CUNY. She is the author of The Anarchist Bastard: Growing Up Italian in America, also published by SUNY Press; coeditor (with Carol Bonomo Albright) of Wild Dreams: The Best of Italian Americana; and coeditor (with Lee Gutkind) of Our Roots Are Deep with Passion: Creative Nonfiction Collects New Essays by Italian-American Writers. She lives in New York City.


"The approach to storytelling is discontinuous, fragmentary, but layered like a study of the sedimentary ridges in Central Park. " — Brooklyn Rail

"Unlike a lot of urban writers portraying individuals as the city's central characters, Herman makes families New York's foundation … No Longer and Not Yet reveals the city as an unsensational, even sensible place, where families do what they do everywhere. Schedule work and play, juggle the nuts-and-bolts of daily life, and work hardest at feeding the love that brought them together in the first place. " — Rockland County Times

"The stories are woven together seamlessly … Joanna Clapps Herman has been called both saint and bard of the upper west side and, after finishing the book, you'll understand why. " — Harrison Review

"No Longer and Not Yet is an absorbing collection of stories focused on weaving the characters together by ribbons of connection. " — Manhattanville College

"Time and the city are the subjects of these beautifully connected stories: children are born and become themselves, marriages take shape, a handsome doorman opens the lobby door, snow falls on a man who lives in a box outside. Like Tolstoy, the writing is both exquisite and transparent, and everything is bathed in feeling and light and intelligence. " — Myra Goldberg, author of Whistling and Other Stories and Rosalind: A Family Romance

No Longer and Not Yet is a moving and funny collection of stories. Translation always reveals the weaknesses in a text. Joanna's writing doesn't have those weaknesses. She is a very accomplished writer. " — Lazare Bitoun, translator of American writers into French, including Grace Paley and Janet Malcolm

"Joanna Clapps Herman is both Saint and Bard of the Upper West Side. She illuminates the human spirit pulsing through its vibrant buildings, portraying neighbors linked by history and geography, by shared love and loss. On Riverside Drive, the imposing ghost of Hannah Arendt, a former inhabitant, is as strong a presence as a small boy who covets a corner of the elevator after his sister is born. Herman discovers the human connections that warm the asphalt and brick of New York, delivering benediction along with a healthy dose of humor. " — Pam Katz, screenwriter of Hannah Arendt