Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York with Ariel Sabar

Anyone could tell you I’m not really into love stories. I like funny movies and depressing books. I love New York because I’m single more often than not, and because New York is the greatest place in the world to be single. So naturally, my first reaction to this year’s Valentine’s Day event, as every year, was an eye roll. Love in New York, sure, great.

I was more shocked than anyone to find myself drawn against my will into the premise of Ariel Sabar’s new book Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York. Sabar, inspired by his parents having met in Washington Square, “set out to find the invisible forces at play in great public places.”

In a city of more than 8 million, the chances of two people finding each other seem slim, and Sabar admits that only a tiny percentage of couples report having met in a public place. Sabar details nine real-life love stories in narrative, novelistic form, introducing each character just before they run into each other (sometimes literally) on the subway, in a park, in the Met, on the street, or in a park.

The book’s introduction was a surprise pleasure; a fascinating discussion of how city planners use the built environment to draw people together, from Gilgamesh to Jane Jacobs’ New York and beyond. People need places to gather, and people, it seems, attract more people. No matter the location, Sabar is right in insisting that “there is an undeniable poetry to love born of chance.”

Join us tonight, February 15th as Ariel Sabar waxes philosophical on love and urban planning. I’ll be in the back, pretending not to enjoy it.

--Posted by Kat B.

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