Friday, March 12, 2010

Michael Sorkin's "Twenty Minutes in Manhattan"

Twenty Minutes in Manhattan Twenty Minutes in Manhattan by Michael Sorkin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you look at my list of titles on Goodreads, you can see that I am interested in books that are in a specific place and time. In many ways I think I prefer that than to say 'character.' But then again I find cities and locations are very much character in the sense that the architectural or urban landscape is a narrative in itself and there lies the suspense and often tells how humans react to that environment.

Michael Sorkin, like a skilled surgeon, writes about his neighborhood in lower Manhattan. And what he sees is visual history slowly and surely disappearing as New York merges into another identity or large shopping mall. The human interaction is still in place, but can one imagine a time where that will also disappear like one's favorite little shop.

Sorkin is an architect, and it is basically the eyes of that occupation that he looks at his home. The first chapter on various staircases in Manhattan is fascinating and scary (due to my vertigo). But he also admires all the quirks and charm of a building that doesn't work perfectly. This is a very human take on a city that is changing but will always be fascinating as well.

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