Thursday, 9 January 2014

@bookmerica : traintime = booktime #bookmerica


My book reading can be extremely variable, depending upon what else I'm doing. At the moment I've been commuting again, which means Kindle time on main line trains as well as the tube.

I've just read a couple of books about New York, and thought I could link one of them into a project that fellow blogger Hannah has just started, which is called Bookmerica.org. It's all about creating a crowdsourced American State based reading list.

The first of the books I could consider is Triburbia, by Karl Taro Greenfeld

It's formatted as a novel, but is really a set of stories set in a posh bit of New York. Last year I read John Lancaster’s Capital, which was about a gentrified street in London where the properties had whizzed up in value and the stories were of a kind of interlinking of the characters inhabiting adjacent houses.

This turns out to be a similar idea, set in around Tribeca in Manhattan, with characters with suitably artsy creative jobs - sound engineers, artists, photographers and the like. And a gangster type.

The fellas all meet together for occasional coffee after dropping off kids for school and there’s interweaving between incident of their lives, which are more like a set of individual tales with some overlaps.

I’ve wandered around Tribeca and can recognise they there would be well-heeled people inhabiting the area's gentrified blocks. Maybe like parts of Islington or Notting Hill?

The story telling is pleasant enough, but I didn’t really warm to the characters or their predicaments. I suppose the idea was to paint pictures of the privileged nouveau artisans of the area, seen through the mainly 30-40 year old male perspective.

I didn't really have enough empathy for the characters, and found it to be a little like a soap, rather than fully holding my attention.

I guess it's one to read to enjoy intrigues of urban high-income 30-somethings, inhabiting a privileged lifestyle in a busy part of Manhattan. Possible, but not ideal, for bookmerica?

By comparison, I've just been reading The Deep Whatsis, by Peter Mattei. Note the cover doesn't have a title on it.

Also set in Manhatten, this one was much more fun*, giving a first person perspective of a high-flyer Chief Ideas Officer for an advertising company.

Massively paid, ruthless, cynical, downsizing his department as a sport, the anti-hero is also losing grip on his life. There's an inevitability to his mishaps with the Intern, the high end New York bars and bistros that he inhabits, the effects of over indulgence and the sociopathic voice that continues to drive him.

There's other stories that deal with some of the themes, including the movie 'In the Air' with Clooney, but the voice of the protagonist in this story keeps the attention as he slides obliviously from one horrible incident to another.

One to read to recognise some of the excesses of corporate mayhem, with a morally bankrupt lead character who manages to get worse as the story progresses. One I'll probably re-read - and have decided to suggest to bookmerica.

* and a bit rude

8 comments:

OldLady Of The Hills said...

All of this made me think of the early story's that the New Yorker published by J.D. Salinger back in the 1950's---particularly the Glass Family Story's----most all of them took place in New York City and it really gave you such a feeling of The City as it was at that time.....I have no idea if any of this is even something bookamerica.com is interested in, since it is from such an earlier time---but I remember being Sooo excited each time one of these Salinger story's would appear in the Magazine---it was like finding Gold!

rashbre said...

Naomi They sound like brilliant suggestions.

I wonder, with J.D. Salinger's sometimes reluctance for things to be published, whether some of the New Yorker ones will have made it into anthologies?

Something to investigate!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Some of them are in anthologies.
NINE STORIES..(Or is it Story's?
And FRANNY & ZOOEY was published as a book, on it's own..... There are more, too.....
The Glass Family story's sometimes had to be figured oyt---that is, it wasn;t always clear the some of the characters were related---part of that Family.....That in itself was fascinating---and putting it all together was great fun.
He was an exceptional writer!
Someone once wrote which of the story's were all the Glass Family....You might Google that....!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Here is something I just found on Amazon that gives a little background...http://www.amazon.com/Glass-Family-Stories-JD-Salinger/lm/R25SV30GSGQFS2

I remember reading that last long piece published in 1965 and finding it very 'dense'. But I really loved ALL the Glass Family stories before that one. It would be worth reading again, now that I am older and see what I feel about that 1965 piece now.

rashbre said...

Naomi Wow. Thanks - you have been doing the research too! I was looking at J.D. Salinger listings trying to work out which ones were the ones you'd suggested. Nine Stories looks like a good place to start! I'll check out your Google link, too.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Do start with NINE STORIES....I think they came first.....There is a Wikipedia entry but they have a disclaimer at the beginning about needing more accurate info....
Personally, I remember the "discovery" of who all the Glass Family people were was part of the enjoyment of the stories---making the Hook-ups, yourself, so to speak---Seymour, Buddy, Walt, Waker, etc.........I LOVE the stories in "NINE STORIES", and later, the further stories that appeared in THE NEW YORKER....ENJOY!!!!
AND FYI:
"FRANNY AND ZOOEY" were printed separately in the New Yorker, but they were published together in Book Form. They were the two youngest Glass children.

rashbre said...

Naomi : Thanks - I'm just about to order Nine Stories from Amazon. Will let you know how I get on with it!

rashbre said...

Naomi Nine Stories has arrived at home, according to my Amazon, but as I'm away it will be the weekend before I can pick it up.