Earlier this year I read My Father’s Paradise (Algonquin, 2008) Ariel Sabar’s thrilling memoir of his Jewish Kurdish Iraqi father. As Sabar writes in his next book, Heart of the City (DeCapo, 2011), My Father’s Paradise is as much a tribute to his father as Heart of the City is to his mother.
I downloaded Heart of the City onto my Kindle months ago, but thought this week would be a good time to read it.
Sabar’s book centers around nine marriages, some originating decades ago, while others took place only several years ago. Some of the people he interviewed were born in the US, while others hailed from Asia or Europe. They held white collar and blue collar jobs, were hippies, military men, and homeless.
What all these couples had in common was the place where they met: New York City.
Sabar begins with a quick academic look at public space and how it fosters closeness, even in a large city like New York. Then he gets into the nitty gritty. His stories remind me of the weekly featured wedding in The New York Times Sunday Styles.
He concludes each story just before or after the couples marry. In an epilogue, he gives a quick update on their marriages in the present. Even after reading these nine narratives, I still remembered all the couples when I reached the epilogue.
Heart of the City is a quick and refreshing read, and one that gives hope above everything else.