Another book about the city that never sleeps? Yes, and most welcome. The guide who invites the reader to join his exploration is erudite and warm, as curious about the people around him as about the stories and anecdotes – literary, historical and personal – that have their origins in the streets and avenues of New York. The pace of these discoveries is reminiscent of the flaneurs of old who would let the day take them where it would, for this author’s days are dictated as much by chance as by design: where will this bus take him? Hell’s Kitchen? Why not. End station Brighton Beach? So be it. Any water nearby? The Hudson it is. Although the pace is imposed on the author whose constant companion is a black walking stick, there would always have been an old-world gentlemanly charm to Max Dorner’s journeys and the quotes by Walt Whitman sprinkled through sit well with the whole. As for the stick, well, it brings him closer than many other travellers ever come to those fascinating denizens of NYC.
Also recommended is the same author’s diary Mein Dämon ist ein Stubenhocker, a frank, intelligent, and moving account of his coming to terms with his illness, to be published later this year in paperback by Rowohlt.
All recommendations from Spring 2009