New Slow City: Living Simply in the World’s Fastest City
“If you wear clogs, recycle diapers, and think it is fun to live in a hovel then this book is for you. Otherwise, the going is iffy.”
William Powers made a name for himself in Twelve by Twelve, his account of living in a cabin in North Carolina without running water or electricity. Now he transplants that virtuous living to Manhattan with the aim to live “simply in the world’s fastest city.”
The problem is that this book is all about him rather than the reader, a cardinal mistake that in his case is fatal. Does one really need to know about his daily wanderings in his SoHo neighborhood, the schizophrenic tramp he befriends in Washington Square, issues about his marriage, or other personal problems?
Resoundingly, no. While holding promise early on, the book grows quickly tiresome.
Throughout its pages the reader repeatedly asks, What has this got to do with me? Many people long to slow down. To downsize. To simplify their lives. What a pity that the author doesn’t suggest ways to achieve that. Instead, he gives us his hippie-esque journey of squeezing from a townhouse in Queens to a one-bedroom walk-up in Greenwich Village with wife, bicycle, and soon enough, baby.
Who cares? One chapter is titled “Taking Back Your Time,” yet it never addresses the reader who might be looking for guidance for how to take back personal time. Instead we’re given lectures about how Greece bans television ads for toys between 7 AM and 10 PM. A wearisome socialist mindset is evident throughout.
Though it speaks of meditation techniques and Zen as a way to channel one’s efforts to a higher purpose, nothing in these pages indicates how a reader might achieve a slower life. If you wear clogs, recycle diapers, and think it is fun to live in a hovel then this book is for you. Otherwise, the going is iffy.