Reading list: Summer in the City

By , June 9, 2013

Does this vacation season find you short on time and money? Don’t worry, arm-chair travel requires only one passport document, your library card. This summer why not travel to the most exciting city in the world, New York City?

Our first stop is a visit with one of the most talented and excitable New Yorkers of all time, Mel Brooks. The latest American Masters program, Mel Brooks-Make a noise offers a rare, rare, rare look into his world.  With commentary  by Carl Reiner, Joan Rivers and the gorgeous Anne Bancroft aka Mrs. Mel Brooks, this may be the most entertaining 90 minutes of television you will come across this summer.

Next on the itinerary, Man on wire, follows Philippe Petit as he prepares for his August 7th, 1974, high wire walk between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.  The walk  is remembered as “the artistic crime of the century”. It is bittersweet to recall a time when mention of the Twin Towers signified a triumph in personal artistry.

New York City apartment life offers endless imagined possibilities. Luckily for the voyeur in all of us,  a fascination with apartment living captures the eye of some our best writers and directors. Here are a few peeks past the doorman starting with the children’s classic, Harriet the Spy by Fitzhugh, Louise.

On film, The Apartment (1960) starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacClaine is the classic by which all other madcap comedies were once measured.  Other filmed “apartment” stories include any work of Woody Allen. Three apartment vignettes (included one by Woody Allen) are featured in New York Stories (1989). Carnage and A Late Quartet, both feature starring roles by great apartments.

To conclude your NYC tour, pick up The View from Penthouse B  by Elinor Lipman. This elegant story features a cast of (relatively) down on their luck roommates, two sisters “of a certain age” and a platonic male boarder. Visitors  include one recently convicted ex-husband, his millinery designing son, various friends and extended family.  Take one part saga of lost wealth add one part comedy of personalities add a dash of domesticity and in the hands of this accomplished author and the result is a perfectly executed soufflé of a novel.

Dust off the bottles of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth,  look in the way, way back of the refrigerator for those Marachino cherries, mix up a Manhattan and stay a while, it is summer after all.

“All my life, I never really felt comfortable anywhere in New York, except maybe in an apartment somewhere.”  Martin Scorsese



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