- Hardcover: 109 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (June 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393051080
- ISBN-13: 978-0393051087
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,109,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
In the City: Random Acts of Awareness Hardcover – June 1, 2002
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
From Publishers Weekly
"The city always been burdened, even haunted, by its history. The city has never been new." Tell that to Peter Stuyvesant or the formerly Manhattan-based Algonquin Indians, one is tempted to reply to Brooks, a professor of writing at New York's New School University. In this set of free associations on New York City and its environs, Brooks's tone is pitch-perfect NPR-style meditation, all hushed tones juxtaposed with wry commentary and commonsense insights: "Losing her life, I imagine," Brooks notes of a woman killed by an ice cart in 1851, "was the last thing on the woman's mind as she awoke on that mid-nineteenth century morning. She might have felt even worse had she known that news of her misfortune would be proclaimed in such a public fashion" by the newspaper. This slim book is packed with similar speculations from an omniscient perspective that flattens out almost everything with which it comes into contact: the Weathermen-blasted brownstone in the Village, delays on the subway, a July 4th fireworks celebration, an arsonist caught setting fires in his own neighborhood ("maybe he was tiring of all the travel"), summer heat. Since Brooks, who won a PEN/Jerard Fund award, never quite conveys what made a given item interesting to her, the "acts" of this book fail to gather force.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Writers have always been intrigued by the contradictory ambience of cities, the mix of what seems permanent and reliable (sidewalks, buildings, familiar faces) and the mutable and frightening (disappearances, accidents, crime, strangers). In her first book, award-winning essayist Brooks stands at the intersection of consistency and chaos in a silken meditation on a city she doesn't name but that is recognizable as New York and attempts to distill the urban experience down to its essence by committing "random acts of awareness" that yield bits of overheard conversation, cryptic headlines, tales of sudden death, odd (or are they ordinary?) moments of grace on subways, and all manner of haunting vignettes in which the unlikely becomes the inevitable. Brooks' carefully etched and wistful prose echoes that of such master necromancers of the city as Borges, Calvino, or Auster, but because this isn't fiction, and because Brooks has a wry tabloid sensibility, her performance also achieves the clever connectivity of a highly rarefied stand-up routine meant not to amuse but to arouse wonder. Which it does, especially in Brooks' attunement to time's baffling elasticity. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Browse award-winning titles. See more