I thought I’d give yet another shout-out to Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch’s Ten Talks/Two Walks from Ugly Duckling Presse. Written in the form of “sixty-minute, sixty-sentence walks around Manhattan and a pair of dialogues about walking,” the book’s observational humor often digresses into moments of tastefully awkward poignancy and makes clear, through tugging at the errant threads found in New York City’s human scenery, that everything is truly connected in a glorious form of mental acupuncture: men fighting with lampposts spawn a recollection of a flexible phone conversation, the actions of strangers remind the narrators of their own behavior, and the outside city is shown to be a reflection of the internal time and time again.
As someone who is an outsider to New York (I’ve been there only twice to salivate at the foot of its cultural picture window), Ten Walks/Two Talks grants readers rare and tender access to all the parts of NYC that won’t be shown on Will & Grace anytime soon—and even to some of the parts that may, although they won’t be portrayed in such a koan-like, meditative manner as within this book. If one wished to expand the American Museum of Natural History to include the human specimens found on a collection of random street corners, there could be no better curators selected for the job than Cotner and Fitch. With brand new taxonomic categorizations like “dwarf carrying bag of bananas” and “gold spandex wearing friend to the geriatrics,” this book makes an evocative catalogue of all the city and the imagination have to offer.
Last time I went to the NYC, I paid too much for leggings and ate things that have milk in them when ordered in New York City but do not have milk in them when ordered elsewhere. This was very fun, but next time I think I’ll just walk around and stare.