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Book Review: The City Out My Window by Matteo Pericoli

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In the introduction to The City Out My Window, architect Paul Goldberg states: “a view is like a mate: you must be sure you want to live with it, because you cannot really change it. … but you accept it, it becomes a part of you, and what you see in it tells everything.

The City Out My Window is a collection of 63 fine drawings of urban architecture by author Matteo Pericoli, who gained access to the New York homes of well-known people to see how the world looks from their side of the window.

Among the many delightful drawings, accompanied by text and quoting the residents, are many personal and revealing comments, such as:

From writer Colum McCann:

"What we see out our windows is not always what others see. We must treat our windows like stories. I like to think that we can open them up to as many other stories as we want. So outside my window is Sarajevo, and San Francisco, and Sydney and St. Petersburg, and Dublin, where I first opened a window…. The mind leaps outward. We may look at a brick wall or an air-conditioning vent, or a patchwork of iron bars, and find in them a series of mysteries."

Composer Philip Glass claims to love his view of New York’s infrastructure of water tanks, air-conditioning, and exhaust pipes.

Writer Nora Ephron enjoys a view that includes her “favorite building in all the world,” the Chrysler Building. “Fortunately, when I write, I face away from it, or I would never get anything done.”

The City Out My Window offers an intimate sense of the quiet these residents, artists, writers, and composers enjoy and their constant connection with their city through their view. Reading this book, you gain a new sense of what people seek when they find their ideal home, even in crowded New York City. You sense what it means to them to feel connected to the city, yet our view is often something over which we exercise little control. Many of these New York homes and apartments, in fact, have views confined by architecture rather than nature, and yet people are drawn to the life and the changes observed through the window in each residence, from their private space in a very public city.

The City Out My Window has a lovely die-cut cover, interesting construction and pages that lay flat so nothing interferes with your peering into the lives of the city’s residents. The variety among the 63 charming drawings shows Pericolo’s ability to capture the spirit of the city with simple lines.

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About Helen Gallagher

  • heddy

    Hi, typo in the last line of your review, the author’s name is Pericoli not Pericolo.