My wife’s first reaction when she read parts of “New York, New York” was “it’s all true”. The “it” she had in mind was the process for getting your kids into a private school in New York City. We had friends in New York who tried to tell us about the process that starts when the child, as I recall, is still a zygote, but it was all too difficult to believe. But Author Rob Silverman peels back the outer skin of the Big Apple and gives us a view of how it really works.
This is not exactly a travel book, or more accurately it is as much a travel book as Jane Goodall’s work was a travel book for visiting Africa. Silverman’s book is a funny, insightful look at what it would be like to actually live in New York City. As such the book, should be required reading for anyone who wants to move to Manhattan or who just wants to understand friends who have done so.
Silverman himself, is from England, but has fallen in love both in and with Manhattan. So he understands the city as a naturalized resident and understands what parts of New York City life would come as a surprise to us suburbanites in a way that a real native might not. He approaches the subject with affection and wit such as in this section on living in a building with a doorman.
Sorry to disappoint many out there, but a solitary unarmed doorman in a sleepy small building on a side street shrouded with trees can’t really do much to prevent a full-scale onslaught by those who are determined to do harm to people and property. Some doormen have cameras but so do banks and they get held up frequently.
Doormen are therefore a deterrent to unwanted guests. They offer peace of mind to the tenant. They are not security guards, so if you have the Russian mafia hounding you for nonpayment of a loan you should not expect a Manhattan doorman to takeout and neutralize a bunch of club-wielding thugs whose sole purpose is to damage your kneecaps as a reminder of payment due.
“New York, New York – So Good They Named It Twice” is a wonderful read. It did not make me want to pack up my belongings and move to a small apartment in New York (where they wouldn’t fit anyway). it does help me understand why some people do.