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Five Flights Up and Other New York Apartment Stories Paperback – March 9, 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I knew rooms were just a lot of stage sets," Schlesinger writes of taking on the Village Voice "Shelter" column in 1997. The drama taking place behind New Yorkers' drawn curtains, Schlesinger reveals in this selection of interviews, is varied and vivid: bizarre, unhappy, frenetic, obsessive, euphoric, awkward, and endless. Divided into 15 sections, the book captures people at a moment in time, before 9/11 and after, telling the deeply personal stories that lead to new addresses: stories of death, ambition, love and rent control. Schlesinger finds a man with a 129-pound rubber band ball, a 105-pound pet pig in Brooklyn and a man who has turned his living room into a giant pinhole camera. "Manhattan's density," Schlesinger notes, "is 871 times that of the U.S. as a whole." Rents are as sky high as the architecture, which explains why a family of four might keep their rent-stabilized 295-square-foot studio in Little Italy. Sometimes Schlesinger enters homes and smells gas, sometimes dumplings, and it's not uncommon for her to make interviewees ill at ease. "Don't you want to write about the apartment?" one man asks. Her associative ramblings aren't binge reading material, but the book's Spartan design and casual, if bizarre, banter offer sliver-sized glimpses into the epic stories of New York lives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Toni Schlesinger is a columnist for the Village Voice and a New York based fiction writer and theater artist.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (March 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568985851
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568985855
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,964,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Beatrice Izzey VINE VOICE on April 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
There is nothing like this book: how responsible people with real budgets live in the tiniest apartments, in precarious situations, and in creative, joyful ways in spite of the most egregious constraints. None of it is applicable in other cities, only in New York do you have a whole family (two parents, two kids) live in a studio apartment. I love how the author gets people to disclose the actual rent they pay, the square footage, etc. Only in NY is it not completely rude to ask strangers about a major part of their finances. This book prepares you for the sacrifices and joys of living in New York, and how central the housing issue is in this overcrowded city, and how one is hardly alone in obsessing about real estate.

One book that is an excellent companion to this book is Living Large In Small Spaces by M. Bartolucci. This is about how real people including New Yorkers live cleverly (i.e., organize and decorate) in 100 sqft to 1000 sqft apartments, and while many people interviewed live on limited budgets, dollar figures are missing. The two books go really well together.
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Format: Paperback
Toni Schlesinger's Q&A sessions with quirky New York residents in their even quirkier apartments are a true gem that will find a place in the heart of anyone who went through that formidable process of NYC apartment hunting. A compilation of the original Village Voice column, "Shelter," the book is separated into sections such as "Miniature," "Light," "Utopia" and "Haunted," but what I really love about this book is that it allows you to randomly pick a story from over three hundred interviews whenever you happen to pass by it. Schlesinger is a writer for the Voice, so naturally you can expect an insightful, knowledgeable and confident interviewer at work, but I found the unexpected affection, brilliant candor and humor in the many voices of Manhattan she chronicles to be her greatest achievement. The book answered for me that mysterious question why even after the rats, the horrid rent and evil landlords New Yorkers still find it so enchanting to live in New York, or "Neverland" as Schlesinger calls it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Was not what I expected mildly entertaining.
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