(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“City of Boys” is told in the first person through the ramblings of a young woman who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the central borough of New York City. The story begins with the two principal female characters in bed together, the older one admonishing the younger to avoid boys because they will only take advantage of her. After this relatively straightforward opening, the story rambles back and forth, but two general narrative streams emerge. The first stream, which dominates the work, is the home life and conversations among the two women and Tito, the older woman’s live-in companion. The second stream of narrative involves the young woman’s obsession with boys.

The narrator is from Fairborn, Ohio, the first “city of boys” mentioned. She has come to New York for an unspecified reason, perhaps to get away from her mother, who kept insisting that she grow up and get married. On the street, the narrator meets an older woman who is never named or described, but the fact that the narrator refers to her as “her mother” many times suggests that she is considerably older. The older woman takes the narrator back to her apartment. There she meets Tito, who clearly wants to have a physical relationship with her, but who is kept at bay by the older woman.

Tito is the older woman’s live-in lover, but he is also a married man, with a wife in Queens, one of the outlying boroughs of New York. Not much more is revealed about him, but his presence suggests that the older woman, like the narrator, has sexual feelings for men as well as women. Tito leaves,...

(The entire section is 651 words.)