Naked in New York is one of those books that we might never have come across unless circumstances conspired to bring them to our attention, but once they do we feel fortunate because they enrich our lives.
Although I love poetry (or some poetry at least) I don’t regularly read it. I came across the author’s YouTube video where he reads an excerpt of this book (that at that point was not yet published) in Facebook. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoVOnxcdJjg
Alan Cooke is an actor, writer (poet), filmmaker, and hearing him read ‘Naked in New York’ is an experience that I can recommend wholeheartedly. It’s mesmerising, emotional and ravishing. (His audiobook is available in his website).
The memoir describes the five years the author spent in New York, shortly after the 9/11 attack. He is not only an observer but also a participant that immerses himself in the city, its people, and its atmosphere that had been hardly shaken by the incident, an open wound that has left an indelible scar. His is not a story of the American Dream come true (at times quite the opposite), but even if it was just a necessary condition to get to write this book, it would have been more than worth it.
I have had the advantage of listening to a copy of the audiobook read by the author. It has made me stop on my tracks more than once, left me speechless because of the beauty of a sentence or a moment, made me sad at times (like when he reflects upon 9/11 or on the fate of the less fortunate inhabitants of the city), made me smile (a small gesture noted, a deep shared moment with a stranger, the bird having a bath and smiling), and made me reflect and think back to moments and experiences I could identify with. I might have thought it, but he says it much better.
Naked in New York is beautiful, heartfelt, insightful, self-reflective, personal and universal at the same time. It is truly human. I can’t think of anybody who would not like this book, and I would be worried about anybody who does not. Please read it and tell others about it. There isn’t enough beauty around. We must promote it.