Stop in SoHo

By Rob Packer

Division to the Bridge

By Rob Packer

Yellow in Queens

By Rob Packer

I was in Astoria, Queens yesterday checking out the Noguchi Museum and the Greek restaurants. Both were incredible, but just as understatedly beautiful was this corner of Queens in yellows, orange and blues. Maybe it was the pastel shades or Mexican panadería down the road: there was something about it that reminded me of the D.F.

The Night-Time Met

By Rob Packer

The Met is one of the world’s greatest museums—and if you include The Cloisters, probably the greatest—and I try to swallow the $25 recommended entry fee every time I’m in New York. The collection is spectacularly wide-ranging and the large halls with windows looking out onto the park have beautifully modulated light streaming in through the windows. Though greyish, yesterday was the day for this trip, but by the time we’d come down from The Cloisters and been distracted by food and eyewear on the Upper West, it was already dark as we headed across Central Park.

During the day, the Temple of Dendur comes as a relief after enclosed room after enclosed room of Egyptian funerary art: the light changes and the park opens enormous to the side. At night, the effect is reversed: amply lit galleries come as exposition and give way to the demonstration of the temple* standing aglow behind an oily reflecting pool. The whole gallery feels so sparse as if you were looking at a scale model of a cosmos you barely understand.

The female pharaoh Hatshepsut from another room

Hatshepsut as sphinx.


* Maybe a historically inaccurate impression: the temple was built in post-pharaonic Egypt to glorify Augustus Caesar.

Street Art?

By Rob Packer

Was anyone else at the Brooklyn Book Festival (or anywhere else in Brooklyn) earlier to decipher this? Or to read the rest of it?

We turned my computer through 180º before we could work that it probably says STREET ART. But did anyone see the rest?

A Literary Map of Manhattan

Thanks to for posting this amazing map of Manhattan.

Teju Cole’s “Open City”

By Rob Packer

Open City by Teju Cole

Last month, I attended a joint reading by Jeet Thayil and Teju Cole at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It was a stellar pairing between two debut novels and the two cities depicted in them: Mumbai in Thayil’s Narcopolis (2012) and New York in Cole’s Open City (2011). Over the following day and a half I was in Edinburgh, my friend, her sister and I kept coming back t othe reading as we evaluated and re-evaluated our festival highlights. We all had lots, but we were all agreed that Cole and Thayil came high in any list of favourites.

Open City is the monologue of Julius, as he goes on walks through the streets of New York, cataloguing meticulously what he sees and thinks and interleaving it with memories of his childhood in Nigeria. These walks are not just the narrative: Cole captures it in the flow of narrative form as well. The stream-of-consciousness prose reflects the contingent fluidity that an aimless walk around Manhattan actually produces. On a good day (like last weekend) it’s a sublime experience, where thesis, antithesis and synthesis pile up unexpectedly one on top of another in the world’s most impression-dense city. In an article for the FT, Cole described composing an article as “writing as diving”: Open City works as “reading as diving”—so much so, that I read most of the book on one transatlantic flight. Read more of this post

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