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The Mural at the Waverly Inn: A Portrait of Greenwich Village Bohemians    by Edward Sorel order for
Mural at the Waverly Inn
by Edward Sorel
Order:  USA  Can
Pantheon, 2008 (2008)

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Elizabeth Schulenburg

The Waverly Inn in Greenwich Village has been a destination of the rich and famous since it first opened its doors in the 1920s. Run by a sucession of owners, it was most recently purchased in 2006 by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and television producer Roberto Benabib. Rather than turning it into another sterile, trendy Village hangout, Graydon and Roberto set out to transform The Waverly into 'the sort of haunt (they) would feel at home in'. They hired excellent help, refurbished the inside, and decided to surround the main dining room with a massive mural - and thus, The Mural at the Waverly Inn was born.

Graydon contacted famed caricaturist Edward Sorel, whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. Together, they came up with a list of 43 famous inhabitants of Greenwich Village, and created a mural depicting each in a manner that made sense with that person's life. Margaret Sanger, the champion of women's reproductive rights, is seen holding a placard which reads Free Birth Control Information; Thelonius Monk plays the piano with a smoldering cigarette at his left hand; Andy Warhol pushes a shopping cart containing a box of Brillo pads.

A brief volume, The Mural at the Waverly Inn gives the reader a detailed closeup of each of the characters featured in Sorel's mural, along with a short synopsis of their life. In addition, the end of the book features a pull-out section of the entire mural, so each person can be seen within the greater work. It is a quick but fascinating read, as the personages leap off the page with Sorel's illustration, and their own unique place in Village history. This would be an ideal gift for an art lover, or anyone who is fascinated by New York City. It is a delightful look at a place in time that can not be replicated.

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