Today is my stop on the blog tour for Tom Connolly’s latest novel, Men Like Air, which is published on 22nd September by Myriad Editions. The novel is set in New York City and here Tom has written a little about the book and some of his (and his characters) favourite films set in NYC.
My second novel Men Like Air explores the romance and solitude of cosmopolitan life in New York City and, in the case of nineteen-year-old Finn fleeing the domestic violence of his life in England, the transformative power of art. Finn arrives in NYC with an older, wiser, more travelled girlfriend who has a list of fabulous places she intends to see and wonderful things she intends to do. Finn, on the other hand, has come to do one thing, beat the crap out of his older brother for abandoning him.
Like many of us, Finn’s idea of NYC comes from the movies, and this was the case for me when I first arrived there in 1992. Like plenty of young men at that time, my favourite New York movies were gritty modern classics: Midnight Cowboy; Raging Bull; The French Connection with its iconic chase scene under the elevated train line at Stillwell Avenue in Brooklyn. Their influence on my first visit to the city meant that I was terrified of the place as I made my way carrying my suitcase from the Port Authority across town to my aunt’s apartment.
Although thirty years my junior, Finn loves these movies too, and having found in boxing an antidote to the storm of abuse meted out to him by his uncle, he’s especially drawn to Scorsese’s groundbreaking masterpiece about Jake LaMotta. But Finn’s brutalised upbringing after being orphaned by his parents’ alcoholism also gives rise to an instinct to escape into romance and comedy, so his playlist includes movies like The Royal Tenenbaums and The Squid and the Whale.
Finn sets out to find the Hell’s Kitchen of the movie Sleepers, which is also the only novel he has read in his adult life, having stolen it from the waiting room at his solicitor’s office before being sent to a young offenders’ prison for blowing up the garden shed of a man who kicked his own dog to death. But he finds Hell’s Kitchen changed beyond recognition from the period of the movie and, as is so often the way, discovers that very little of the film was shot there anyway.
A lot of us feel we know NYC before we get there, because of the movies, TV and books set there. When Finn arrives, he discovers in NYC the first thing in his life not to let him down or disappoint him. It is the first experience of something being bigger and better than he’d imagined. So, here are Finn’s top ten New York City movies, and mine.
The Squid and the Whale
The Royal Tenenbaums
The French Connection
Die Hard with a Vengeance
(I barred myself from including Midnight Run even though it makes it in to my top 3 movies of all time – along with Days of Heaven and Some Like It Hot – as it is a trans-America road movie that only begins and ends in NYC.)
Moonstruck (edging out When Harry Met Sally)
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
The French Connection
Do The Right Thing
Blue in the Face
Thank you to Tom for joining me on my blog today. You can follow the rest of the Men Like Air blog tour on the dates and blogs below!