Sunday, April 28, 2013
Reading Journal: Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now - As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It, by Craig Taylor (2011)
I'd call it an oral history - apparently, the approach recalls Studs Terkel, who wrote a similarly-styled book about American soldiers returning from World War II - but this mammoth collection of interviews edited down from an original length of almost a million words has such vitality that I want to say "oral present." Taylor speaks with Londoners - past and present, from all walks of life - and what emerges is a portrait of one of the world's most important and most-storied cities, one corner and one observer at a time. Sure, the author may have just transcribed the conversations, but what amazed me most is the way he held on to voices, so that everyone we heard from was clearly representing another perspective. I found it to be a slow read, but never dull, and I took my time with it, because to read more than two or three perspectives at a time risked having them blur together... kind of like the city itself does. The variety of experiences is what's most important to preserve when reading this, and though you'll feel like you've been reading it forever, you'll still wish there was more when you put it down. Super-interesting stuff.