Against all odds 

guy-cookson-29-december-2016

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Against all odds 

Picture books of New York

I am always on the lookout for new picture books to buy for my two sons, Oscar (6) and Mateo (2). So I can’t wait to dig into the these:

“Wow . . . New York! Just like I pictured it. Skyscrapers and everything.” So murmurs a presumably wide-eyed newcomer during a spoken-word break in Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City,” and who among us outlanders and former rubes did not feel that same sense of mingled recognition and awe when we first set foot here? Thanks to movies and TV, magazines, the news, books — iconography in general — all of us, even natives, carry a mental suitcase stuffed with received images of the Big Apple. That’s true of children, too, for whom the city’s superlatives (biggest, loudest, tallest) hold a special fascination. You might even say that New York is to other American cities what dinosaurs are to other animals — minus, one hopes, the extinction event. And if we are — or were — lucky children, picture books play a huge role in how we picture the city, from “Eloise” and “The Snowy Day” to “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” “In the Night Kitchen,” “You Can’t Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum” and “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers.”

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Picture books of New York

Returning to books

From Charles Simic in the New York Review of Books:

There is nothing more mysterious and wonderful than the way in which some bit of language—a clever quip, a pithy observation, a vivid figure of speech found in a book or heard in a conversation—remains fresh in our memory when so many other things we were at one time interested in are forgotten. These days, I look in disbelief at many of the books on my shelves, from thick novels and memoirs to works of great philosophers, wondering whether it’s really possible that I devoted weeks or even months reading them. I know that I did, but only because opening them, I find passages and phrases I’ve underlined, which upon rereading I recall better than the plots, characters, and ideas I encountered in these books; sometimes it looks to me that what has made the lasting impression on my literary taste buds, to use culinary terms, are crumbs strewn on the table rather than the whole meal.

Returning to books