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