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Author, Illustrator
IT WAS HER NEW YORK: true stories and snapshots
C.O. MOED, author
Through a mosaic of intimate photo-illustrated true-story vignettes, IT WAS HER NEW YORK tells the story of Florence, a pissed-off hurricane of an unwealthy lesbian and Juilliard-trained pianist stumbling into dementia on the Lower East Side, fighting all the way, as her youngest daughter juggles chainsaws to hold off the inevitable. Weaving through an urban maze of ERs, office cubicles, car rides, battered old parks and another viewing of Singing in the Rain, their story and the stories of their fellow New Yorkers - the pizza ladies, home attendants, taxi drivers, bus drivers, subway workers, EMS responders, calm cops, cute firefighters, next door neighbors and ex-lovers - come to life. The topics of growing old, love in the LGBTQ+ community, and the romance of the ever-changing city of New York are hugely important to me, and I chose to showcase these topics in a combination that feels like a graphic memoir married with a novel. I hope this rare fusion will bring visibility not only to underrepresented communities—the elderly and, more specifically, queer elderly women—but will also highlight the men and women who keep our cities running.
Through lyric, pointedly iconoclastic prose and a soulful mosaic of photographs, Moed offers a riveting exploration of a mother-daughter relationship so colored by love and care that it transcends familial dysfunction, past hurts, and imperfections. With welcome candor, insight, and sensitivity, Moed bears witness to the decline of the cognitive abilities of her mother, Florence, due to dementia, a phenomenon that she initially misconstrues for more of her mother's established behavior: "None of us really understood that things were changing for Florence. She seemed as she always had been." Yet, over time, Moed finds herself clutching onto those rare moments where her mother truly is the mother she always knew. "I lean in, hoping my body acts like a magnet for her words but she is fading."

Moed places Florence at the heart of New York City—their home—and deftly mirrors the gradual erosion of her mother's memory with the incremental disintegration of the fabric of the city she has long known. "I wanted to take a picture,” she writes, “to capture one last portrait of my childhood before it disappeared into thin air." Striking, moving photographs capture fleeting moments in Moed's life in the never-sleeping: vanishing storefronts, the phone lady, passersby, Coney Island, emergency rooms, the ebb and flow of neighborhoods, even the view from under the family’s Steinway baby grand. These captured moments and Moed’s vivid vignettes (that piano’s “place in [Florence’s] world was as permanent as sky or sun or her fingers, which were ferocious and strong until her last breath”) demonstrate the powerful connection between Moed, Florence, the city, and her music.

While deeply personal, It Was Her New York is universally relatable, an elegy that beckons readers to contemplate their own relationships and the ever-changing world. It’s a kaleidoscope of childhood, family, music, and the passage of time. Moed honors Florence’s legacy as a passionate pianist, frugal teacher, fearless lesbian, lover, and mother, fixed in time.

Takeaway: Beautiful, moving memories of a mother, in words and snapshots.

Comparable Titles: Meghan O’Rourke’s The Long Goodbye, Nina Riggs's The Bright Hour.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A