genre: memoir and municipal history
synopsis: the story of a man and his home city
setting: istanbul, 1960s – present
what i liked: pamuk’s descriptions of the city; he has these long sentences comprising lists that build on each to bring to life different vignettes of the city. i tend not to like long sentences in general (since it’s too easy for the author to lose their sense of construction, making the whole sentence unwieldy), but these are an exception.
i would like to say there’s more that i liked, but i skimmed this book more than i read it, especially toward the end. i was determined to finish this book and my alphabet challenge, but i was also reaching my limit with non-narrative nonfiction. this is much more literary than narrative and consequently required more brainpower than i quite frankly was willing to extend it at the time. eventually i would like to come back to it and read it better.
what i could have done without: the author’s descriptions of his sexual activity. like in the girl who fell to earth, i felt it was too much information. i’ve made mental notes of which essays to avoid whenever i reread the book.
final thoughts: i don’t know quite what i was expecting – i’m still trying to work that out – but this wasn’t quite it. i didn’t feel that i got a full sense of what it was like to live in istanbul, but that’s probably because i didn’t read as thoroughly as i normally would have. as i said, i’d like to reread it eventually, but i’m not rushing back. even when i do, i think it’ll still turn out to be a book that delivered less to me than it promised.