Kasa Cotugno's Reviews > Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York

Heart of the City by Ariel Sabar
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's review
Dec 28, 2010

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bookshelves: genre-short-stories, arc, genre-biography-memoir, location-usa-new-york
Read from December 28 to 29, 2010

If you love New York and can't get enough of reading about it, this book will fit into a definite slot. Taking inspiration from his parents' first meeting in Washington Square Park, Sabar has chosen nine locations in the City and has managed to track down couples who have met in each and gone on to have fulfilling lives together. The City plays a huge part in this book, and those sections dealing with its history and the trivia about the locations make for the most compelling reading. There is a 30 page introduction on the evolution of cities and how different public spaces were created. The psychology behind a plaza, for instance. The stories themselves are uneven. Just as our own histories are only fiercely interesting to ourselves, some of the the situations presented here are not as interesting. Others are more magnetic, but they all share a sweetness, showing the respect the author has for his subjects and his respect for their privacy. For residents of New York, there is before (9/11) and after, and several of the stories reflect this dichotomy. As he says in his introduction, he presents his couples individually before the chance meetings that change their lives, and in a nice postscript, brings the reader up to date on how the couples have fared. Each story takes place in a different time, but as they are not presented chronologically, one is struck by the universality of the city and its effect on people.

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