Thursday, December 4, 2014
Windows on the World: 50 Writers, 50 Views - Matteo Pericoli
Published November 2014 by Penguin Group
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review
All of us, at some point in our daily lives, have found ourselves looking out the window. We pause in our work, tune out of a conversation, and turn toward the outside. Our eyes simply gaze, without seeing, at a landscape whose familiarity becomes the customary ground for distraction: the usual rooftops, the familiar trees, a distant crane. The way of life for most of us in the twenty-first century means that we spend most of our time indoors, in an urban environment, and our awareness of the outside world comes via, and thanks to, a framed glass hole in the wall.
In Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views, architect and artist Matteo Pericoli brilliantly explores this concept alongside fifty of our most beloved writers from across the globe. By pairing drawings of window views with texts that reveal—either physically or metaphorically—what the drawings cannot, Windows on the World offers a perceptual journey through the world as seen through the windows of prominent writers: Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul, Daniel Kehlmann in Berlin, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Lagos, John Jeremiah Sullivan in Wilmington, North Carolina, Nadine Gordimer in Johannesburg, Xi Chuan in Beijing. Taken together, the views—geography and perspective, location and voice—resonate with and play off each other.
Working from a series of meticulous photographs and other notes from authors’ homes and offices, Pericoli creates a pen-and-ink illustration of each window and the view it frames. As we delve into what each writer’s view may or may not share with the others’, as we look at the map and explore unfamiliar views of cities from around the world, a new kind of map begins to take shape.
I love to get inside the heads of authors - their work process, their inspiration; Pericoli has, in Windows on the World, given me another way to do that. From Jakarta to Islamabad to St. Petersburg to Aberdeen, writers from around the world, who regularly give us new windows on the world, share the ways in which their own windows inspire them, put them into a mind to work, and even offer respite from work.
"An ordinary view, with houses close together, cars crammed in corners, each compound with its own gate, little kiosks dotting the street. But it is a view choked with stories, because it is full of people. I watch them and I imagine their lives and invent their dreams."
"My watch is the clock atop the Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere, adding its chimes to the cheerful din of chatter, car horns, laughter."
Matteo Pericoli's particular combination of experience, architecture and art, make for striking drawings to go along with the writer's thoughts and descriptions, putting the reader squarely in the writer's world.
This is the perfect book to keep on your end table or nightstand, to read a few pages at a time. Not only did it take me inside the minds of 50 writers, it took me around the world to get a real feeling for what life is like in each of these places. A real window on the world.