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The Uptown Local

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349127194

Price: £22

ON SALE: 4th July 2024

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Memoirs

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As an aspiring novelist in his early twenties, Cory Leadbeater was presented with an opportunity to work for a well-known writer whose identity was kept confidential. Since the tumultuous days of childhood, Cory had sought refuge from the rougher parts of life in the pages of books. Suddenly, he found himself the personal assistant to a titan of literature: Joan Didion.

In the nine years that followed, Cory shared Joan’s rarefied world, transformed not only by her blazing intellect but by her generous friendship and mentorship. Together they recited poetry in the mornings, dined with Supreme Court justices, attended art openings, smoked a single cigarette before bed.

But secretly, Cory was spiraling. He reeled from the death of a close friend. He spent his weekends at a federal prison, visiting his father as he served time for fraud. He struggled day after day to write the novel that would validate him as a real writer. And meanwhile, the forces of addiction and depression loomed large.

In hypnotic prose that pulses with life and longing, The Uptown Local explores the fault lines of class, family, loss, and creativity. It is a love letter to a cultural icon-and a moving testament to the relationships that sustain us in the eternal pursuit of a life worth living.


The Uptown Local is a beautifully written and deeply moving memoir about how identity is reimagined through art, and how one writer came to understand himself amid the painful constraints of class and trauma. It is also about an intimate, tender, and unlikely friendship. And finally, it is a kind of love letter to the complexities of New York City, the miraculous place where everything seems possible
Dana Spiotta, author of WAYWARD
More than a tender ode to Joan Didion, Cory Leadbeater honors her memory by taking seriously an imperative central in her work: we must face hard truths to know ourselves. The Uptown Local is a beautiful catalogue of twin yearnings: to be seen and to disappear; to belong everywhere and nowhere; to go forth and to return home, and - above all else - to love and to be loved
Chloe Cooper Jones, author of EASY BEAUTY
Something beautiful and lasting has been made: The Uptown Local. Cory Leadbeater's debut memoir on an aspiring writer's dream employment is a brilliant achievement: a consummately loving portrait of a great writer and a deeply flawed father and son. Leadbeater makes exquisite examination of depressions, terrors, and Death, yet the Joy part is wonderful and true
Christine Schutt, author of PURE HOLLYWOOD
Cory Leadbeater writes with beauty, precision and velocity and The Uptown Local is a memoir like no other. It's the story of his relationship with a great American writer, but it's also the saga of his family's dark struggle with 21st century American realities, not to mention his own terrifying years of grief, addiction, and depression. Leadbeater exposes all of his demons with wit and poetic intensity
It has been a long time since I've read a memoir this poignant and intimate. As much a remembrance of Joan Didion as it is an inquiry into how we create - relationships, art, and finally one's self - The Uptown Local is a beautiful, heartrending book
Cristina Henriquez, author of THE GREAT DIVIDE
The Uptown Local renders the dizzying, sometimes painful experience of becoming yourself in prose that perfectly mirrors the story at its heart: at once tender and brutal, surreal and direct, cerebral and visceral. Here, the contradictions of a bifurcated life are not smoothed over, but pulled apart and examined with curiosity, rigor, and love. A spectacular debut
Lilly Dancyger, author of FIRST LOVE
A piercing, erudite, deeply felt exploration of life and art, desire and loss, of choosing to seek out and make what's beautiful against all odds, Cory Leadbeater's The Uptown Local grabbed me by the throat and held me up close to all life's layers: love, hate, birth, and death. I felt grateful, moved, richer because of its unrelenting clarity and force
Lynn Steger Strong, author of WANT and FLIGHT