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A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Piecesby Lawrence Weschler
Synopses & Reviews
"There is something both marvelous and hilarious," writes Lawrence Weschler, "in watching the humdrum suddenly take flight. This is, in part, a collection of such launchings."
Indeed, the eight essays collected in A Wanderer in the Perfect City do soar into the realm of passion as Weschler profiles people who "were just moseying down the street one day, minding their own business, when suddenly and almost spontaneously, they caught fire, they became obsessed, they became intensely focused and intensely alive."
With keen observations and graceful prose, Weschler carries us along as a teacher of rudimentary English from India decides that his destiny is to promote the paintings of an obscure American abstract expressionist; a gifted poker player invents a more exciting version of chess; an avant-garde Russian émigré conductor speaks Latin, exclusively, to his infant daughter; and Art Spiegelman composes Maus. But simple summaries can't do these stories justice: like music, they derive their character from digressions and details, cadence and tone. And like the upwelling of passion Weschler's characters feel, they are better experienced than explained.
"Mr. Weschler has an extraordinary power to catch the crucial moment in people's lives." Oliver Sacks
"...unpredictable in the way that only the best nonfiction can be." New York Times Book Review
...[U]npredictable in the way that only the best nonfiction can be....I found myself thinking of the Bhagavad-Gita...What struck me was the idea of non-attachment....Weschler writes, One works and works at something, which then happens of its own accord....its happening cannot be said to have resulted from all that work, the way effects are said to result from a series of causes."-M.G. Lord, The New York Times Book Review
A few months ago, a friend I was talking with began to tell me about a friend of his named Gary Isaacs, who was working at the downtown headquarters of one of the city's top investment houses as an executive in the division monitoring the savings-and-loan crisis. Though Isaacs was just thirty-two years old, my friend recounted, he had previously worked on the Street in several other capacities as well, and before that he'd had a notably successful career in an entirely different field; what's more, it seemed he was about to quit this one, too, and to head off in yet another direction. When I asked my friend what the previous career had been, and, for that matter, what the new one was going to be, he replied that it would be far more entertaining for me to hear the whole story from the man himself, which is how, a few days later, I came to find myself in the sleek elevator of one of downtown's better-known headquarters zooming up towards I didn't have the faintest idea what.
"Mr. Weschler has an extraordinary power to catch the crucial moment in people's lives--that moment (of passion or conviction) which suddenly alters the course of a life. Such 'conversions'may be absurd or tragic, or delightful, or sublime--we see all of these, and more, in these sometimes very odd, but intensely human, and beautifully told tales." -Oliver Sacks
About the Author
Weschler is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting.
Table of Contents
Shapinsky's karma — Art's father, Vladek's son — Miiler's gambit — Slonimsky's failure — Jensen's Shangri-la — Lennie's illusion — Katchor's Knipl, Knipl's Katchor — Gary's trajectory.
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