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The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the Cityby Misha Glouberman
Synopses & Reviews
A funny, offbeat, thought-provoking guide to working and playing in cities that offers unexpected insights on how a person should be
Why shouldn’t neighborhoods change? Why is wearing a suit a good way to quit smoking? Why do people think that if you do one thing you’re against something else? Is monogamy a trick? Why should making the city more fun for you and your friends be a super-noble political goal? Why does a computer last only three years? How often should you see your parents? What do spam filters tell us about the world? How should we behave at parties? Is marriage getting easier? What do gyms say about the way we live now? Why do we sometimes feel like frauds?
In short, pithy chapters (“Gentrification,” “People’s Protective Bubbles Are OK,” “A Mind Is Not a Terrible Thing to Measure”), Misha Glouberman tells us what he has learned about life, tackling the most trivial of questions alongside the more important ones and revealing that they have more in common than you might think. From thoughts about conflict resolution in the Middle East to observations about loud music in rowdy neighborhoods, from questions on the function of spam filters to ideas on how to edit our own lives, The Chairs Are Where the People Go is an invigorating, entertaining handbook for the times we live in.
"The city in question is Toronto, where Glouberman lives and plies his trades as instructor in improvisation and charades, and artistic impresario. These plainspoken, idiosyncratic essays, transcribed by Heti, a friend and fellow organizer, of their lecture series Trampoline Hall, coalesce cozily around the patient, earnest, well-intentioned voice of the speaker. Doled out is sanguine, youth-oriented advice such as how to make friends in a new city ('It's useful to identify what you like to do'), why going to parties should be fun and constructive, and the importance of placing chairs as close to the stage as possible ('Everyone should know these things'). The platitudes are self-explanatory, but prove so understated as to be frequently hilarious. Examples are observations on manners and teaching an audience to ask good questions ('What I warn people against is feelings of pride'). During the long-winded account of how he formed a neighborhood residents' association to block the opening of noisy bars, Glouberman concludes with a healthy endorsement of compromise — a realization that surprised even himself. Eliminating antagonism is one of the author's pets, as well as learning how to be decisive (like when quitting smoking) and simply accept unhappiness as an ongoing state of striving. As part of his work, he shares many tips on playing charades and easing communication with other games, like play fighting; overall, he dispenses the nondidactic wisdom of an avuncular sage. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Should neighborhoods change? Is wearing a suit a good way to quit smoking? Why do people think that if you do one thing, youre against something else? Is monogamy a trick? Why isnt making the city more fun for you and your friends a super-noble political goal? Why does a computer last only three years? How often should you see your parents? How should we behave at parties? Is marriage getting easier? What can spam tell us about the world?
Misha Gloubermans friend and collaborator, Sheila Heti, wanted her next book to be a compilation of everything Misha knew. Together, they made a list of subjects. As Misha talked, Sheila typed. He talked about games, relationships, cities, negotiation, improvisation, Casablanca, conferences, and making friends. His subjects ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. But sometimes what had seemed trivial began to seem important—and what had seemed important began to seem less so.
The Chairs Are Where the People Go is refreshing, appealing, and kind of profound. Its a self-help book for people who dont feel they need help, and a how-to book that urges you to do things you dont really need to do.
About the Author
MISHA GLOUBERMAN is a performer, facilitator, and artist who lives in Toronto.
SHEILA HETI is the author of three books of fiction: The Middle Stories, Ticknor, and How Should a Person Be?. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, McSweeneys, n + 1, and The Guardian. She regularly conducts interviews for The Believer.
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