Friday, August 18, 2006

I got on to Toni Schlesinger's Five Flights Up And Other New York Apartment Stories through an article in this month's issue of The Believer, which was so hyperbolic (the article) + it made a lengthy comparison to Perec + it has to do, obviously, with New York, much on my mind with a New York set book coming out, that I decided I had to have a copy. Outakes from Schlesinger's "Shelter" column in the Village Voice, where she was given the mandate of stepping into New York apartments and conducting brief interviews with their inhabitants, along with note-lets between sections of the book sinking us deeper into the surround of her mind as it channels a New York of vivid particularities, Five Flights Up is great fun. The inhabitants of one 250 sq ft apartment after another step forward and speak about their obsessions in the early pages. And while the apartments shrink and swell, the fact that they tend to make eccentrics out of their people is pretty consistent. We used to think we had it bad because our upstairs neighbor had a trampoline and a PA system that she used to practice her white rapper routines at all hours and because her ex-husband (Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame) ran rehearsals for a tap dancing play there one summer, but at least we had some space! It's true though that once New York sinks its claws into you, there is a pretty good chance you will put up with just about anything. Schlesinger gets at that very, very nicely.


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