You would be hard-pressed to fault Matteo Pericoli's drawings: they have all the poetic delicacy of a Japanese estampe and the lightly etched precision of the great French comic book artist Moebius, which is what attracted me to this book in the first place. Nor can you quibble the concept modeled after such brilliant illustrated landscapes as Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo or Hokusai Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji. Here it is applied to New York, specifically to the views it offers out of its many windows. It will appeal as much to those fresh to the Big Apple as to those who have lived there or are curious of doing so. The book is also well packaged, its cream colored pages sandwiched between thick slabs of grey board pierced at the front by a mock window pane.
You can however regret, specially if you regard the cult of celebrity as essentially baleful, that Mr. Pericoli chose to have his "subjects" be "famous" for some thing or other. Baryshnikov, Batali, Doctorow, Glass, Koch, Leibovitz, etc, etc, etc: the list reads like an orgy of name dropping. Of course, a few of the participants have interesting, even illuminating comments; I was touched by Ethan Herschenfeld's wistfulness for instance, and loved, as I always do, David Byrne's pungent irony. But so many others are perfunctory, not to say cringe worthy, like Baryshnikov's comment that the undeniably remarkable building he gazes on looks "better at night... like a woman". Er, sure, Mikhail, much like the wine I tasted yesterday evening in fact... just like a woman. Those who like to indulge in copious schadenfreude may also take pleasure in the realization that, at least in New York, some of the rich and famous share vistas as boring as those the average city dweller often wakes up to. Ultimately, this is a lovely book to give as a gift: I'll pass it to my younger brother in whose eyes the lights of the city still sparkle. Of course, he never lived here and only came to visit.