Elegiac Reality

Elegy and nostalgia are nice. The past is a simpler era that seems so wonderful compared to the phone-obsessed reality we live in today. Of course, we don’t complain about the lack of fire hazards or dying of polio, but certain things do appear to have been better back then, whenever then is. Here at Classically Educated, we’re not above a good wallow of the rose-tinted glass kind. In fact, we seem to do a lot of that.

Today’s indulgence is a wonderful book called Lost New York, which, as the name implies, is a pictorial book illustrating the wonders of the city which no longer exist, either because they were demolished, burned down or simply abandoned.

Of course, it’s a beautiful way to forget the present for a little while and become totally absorbed by the past.

From major buildings (such as Pennsylvania Station, pictured on the cover) to single-family mansions which our era might consider of minor interest or even antisocial expressions of class differences (but which I wish had survived), this book covers it all, in a beautiful format which gives a one-page (or, in exceptional cases, two-page) history, including the all-important information about when the building was lost (if they don’t give you this, then the edge is lost to a degree) and the best pictures the author managed to find.

I found this one as un-put-downable as any well-written thriller (and yes, I loved The Da Vinci Code), because I wanted to know what came next, and once I turned the page to discover some wonderful treasure that was no longer with us, I wanted to read all about it… and then I’d turn the page again to discover the next one…

So I breezed through this one, but it’s one of those books that, though not the usual high-gloss-and-color coffee-table book, is one you can happily leave on a coffee table to entertain your guests endlessly.

The fact that I go to New York reasonably often and am familiar with the areas around the landmarks that have disappeared is an added bonus.

Gustavo Bondoni has recently completed the Emily Plair Trilogy with the final novel, Amalgam. Find out what happens to each of the characters in the satisfying conclusion, which you can purchase here.


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