The modest size, slender girth, and bookish typeface of this little volume will effectively put off readers who are looking for glitzy peeks into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The more sober readers who are the target audience of New York Living Rooms
should get the irony at once, and for them this book will provide hours of voyeuristic pleasure. Dominique Nabokov is a realist. Her artfully deadpan color photographs, empty of people, simply show what is there to see, without obvious slant. And yet this collection of more than 100 Polaroids somehow invokes the mix of New Yorkers--wealthy, brilliant, witty, powerful, stylish, artistic, neurotic, and/or beautiful people--that makes the city what it is. It is fascinating, for example, to see what a warm, cozy, plant-filled living room the pompous, pompadoured Reverend Al Sharpton possesses. There is a posthumous, two-picture tour of Allen Ginsberg's poor but immaculate rooms; a shot of the magnificent Quentin Crisp's monkish cell; and pictures of the two-story living rooms of Elizabeth Hardwick and Barbara Epstein, whose shelves in their respective Hotel des Artists apartments still have space for more books. Wow. There are Bierre Bergè's velvet-covered digs at the Pierre Hotel; Mario Buatta's gold-framed collection of springer spaniel portraits; Barbara Taylor Bradford's cold but tchotchke'd sitting room. In the end it is Nabokov's list--including former mayor Ed Koch, painter Louise Bourgeois, composer Philip Glass, Princess and Prince Alexander Romanoff, and Nabokov herself--that makes the book. These living rooms suggest the party of the century, if one could gather all the owners in one place. Julian Schnabel's cavernous loft seems right. --Peggy Moorman
About the Author
Dominique Nabokov works in the United States and in Europe. Her first photograph for "The New York Review of Books "appeared in 1984. Since then, her photographs have appeared regularly in its pages. Her work, both portraiture and reportage, has also appeared in "The" "New Yorker,"" Vogue,"" Vanity Fair,"" L'Express,"" Le Nouvel Observateur,"" Le Monde,"" Lib?ration,"" Die Zeit,"" Interview,"" AD France,"" Nest,"" "and many other publications. She has published two books of photographs, "New York Living Rooms "and "Paris Living Rooms,"
James Fenton is a poet and critic. From 1994 to 1999 he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford. He writes about poetry, art history, and gardening for the "New York Review of Books".