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Book Review: Naked in New York by Emmy Winning Irish actor/poet Alan Cooke.

A beautiful journey...

It seems that all great literary pieces of the world always include a rite of passage. Of a story about leaving the familiar and walking into the unknown. Dante's The Divine Comedy starts with

"In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray...."

Jack Kerouac also made the same allusion with his real life road trip that resulted to a book On the Road. Now I am not going continue quoting tall literature or set a serious tone because I am just an ordinary reader like you. So what's a blogger thought after reading Naked in New York by Irish multi Emmy nominated actor writer and film maker Alan Cooke?

Well, to start with, the book reads like music. He writes in a distinctive rhythmic pace. This isn't the 3-minute-pop-song you-hear-on-the-radio kind of style. Think of a symphony. And though readers might miss the fact that this is an artistic writing using autobiography as vehicle, the sad scenes in Naked in New York are embellished by defining moments.

" History is littered with those that chose to never go outside of the familiar, men and women, dreamers that ached but refused a calling to another life and yet remained behind to toil a groove into a long weary existence." Alan Cooke made a recurring theme along that line all throughout his book. Anyone who has undergone a personal awakening knows that this is the truth. We all want to know something behind this mundane existence. And we do unfamiliar things so that one day we may drink to that fountain of precious memory to say: I have done that. I know what it's like!

The story takes off as he starts leaving for New York. " My God are you mad? That place is burning." Says the cab driver to him. Ah to be a poet in a huge city.

" As New York drew near, I look out the window and finally saw the skyline of Manhattan. I saw the ridges and jagged lines of America's greatest city. It looks surreal. The plane veered towards JFK. I could not take my eyes off the city. It already had me in its gaze."

There are patters of microscopic observations in passages like...

I walked down the steps and through the tunnel. The faces seemed mute and sullen. It was a sharp reminded of what had happened here. I had been above the earth in silence for many hours and now I felt the sudden rush of America."

The thing about Naked in New York is that it is part commentary, part poetry and part autobiography. It is populated by interesting characters. Alan Cooke has this deep compassion for the lost and the forgotten :the old raggedy Ann dolls that got tossed because someone's got a new toy to play with.

From a crazy landlady:

"I quickly found another place to live and confronted her with my deposit. But she wailed and screamed and made excuses, run out the door and did not come back."

To being a victim of hit and run:

"...suddenly a car smashes me into an abyss. Death takes its aim at me and I am alone. This road where I lie in the Bronx is cold and full of treachery."

His narration includes subway mad men, good friends, death of a relative an being broke, cold and sick: "My sanity vanished in these panicked moment yet something deeper was allowing this to happen, to strip away the primal essence in New York. I felt naked in New York in these moments, alone and exposed, a wire cut by a sharp blade."

Naked in New York takes us on an emotional ride but never losing the theme in which the story revolves upon: The transformation of a poetic soul in a vast city called New York. And although this is a book about his own journey, it never fails to evoke a kind of universal familiarity in all of us. After all, we have taken the same decision through different roads. And we have either safely arrived or broken. But we know this feeling. We know this symphony of the soul that transforms us into better beings. A kinder and more profound version of ourselves. It is a brilliant book that reads like fine wine. I recommend it to everyone who loves Irish writers and also the great city, the capital of the world called New York.


In search of a grand adventure, Alan Cooke decided to move to New York in 2001. Has has been an actor, writer and film maker in Dublin since the 90s. While there, he created artistic projects. One of them  was an improvised film about his life in the city as an Irish Immigrant called ' Home.' It gave him an Emmy award.

to quote his Amazon bio:

 "He got 6 A list stars to become involved in the project including Mike Myers Woody Allen, Susan Sarandon and Woody Allen. They all felt they needed to support a positive film about New York. Alan then went on to win an Emmy for his writing on the film. He continued his writing and acting and developed all his diaries thoughts and musings into what has become his debut literary memoir ' Naked In New York.'

' The Spirit of Ireland - An Odyssey Home' is his follow up memoir.  He is currently trying to develop a documentary film of The Spirit of Ireland. He also has a radio podcast show called ' The Wild Hour Show' which is a series of conversations with artists , actors, writers, singers and explorers from around the world.

Alan will also be releasing a thriller set in Ireland called ' Jack Tully and the Midnight Killer'. The first in a series about the life of a tough heroic small town cop who lives on the wild coast of southern Ireland and his pursuit of the criminal underworld in dark times."

He currently lives near the epic Cliffs of Moher on the West Coast of Ireland.

Facebook : http://
Twitter : @wildirishpoet

Get your own copy of Naked in New York through Amazon.





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Tags: Alan, Cooke, Irish, Literature, Naked, New, Poet, The, Wild, York, More…in

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