Monday, August 27, 2012
TRIBURBIA by Karl Taro Greenfeld
It’s not often that I’m truly saddened by reaching the last page of a book, but that was the case with Triburbia. Karl Taro Greenfeld has so winningly introduced me to the well-to-do residents of Tribeca, made me privy to their private thoughts, hopes and aspirations that I’m reluctant to let them go. I’ve spent just a brief time with them - the space of a school year.
These folks are a photograph album of Tribeca once it becamee one if not the most fashionable neighborhood in New York City. It’s 2008 and there
s a creeping uneasiness - the financial crisis has not yet occurred. We meet a disparate group of fathers who gather for coffee after walking their privileged offspring to school. Were it not for the common neighborhood and their children they probably wouldn’t give each other the time of day.
The men are identified by street addresses - for instance, 113 North Moore is the home of a 37-year-old half-Chinese, half-Causasian sound engineer. He describes his neighborhood as “a prosperous community. Our lofts and apartments are worth millions. Our wives vestigially beautiful. Our renovations as vast and grand in scale as the construction of ocean liners.”
As we’ve oft heard money does not buy happiness. In his case when some believe a child molester is in the area, flyers are made, tacked everywhere, and the photo looks very much like him. One of his daughters, Cooper, is the cruelest 4th grader to be found. She relishes excluding other girls from her circle, not allowing them to play jump rope with the chosen few.
This tactic so destroys the daughter of Rankin. a Jewish gangster who lives at 57 Warren Street, that she constantly weeps. He’s able to frighten most grown men but does not know what to do about Cooper, finally deciding to give a sizable donation so a Hebrew school can be built for his daughter to attend.
There is, of course, the husband who is having an affair with a neighbor’s wife, a nanny who quickly learns how to get the money she needs to go to college, a successful memorist whose writing turns out to be a product of his fertile imagination, and so it goes. Each resident is not only parcel and part of that neighborhood but also of an era.
Insightful, compassionate and punctuated with black wit Triburbia has let us share a fascinating world. Don’t miss it.
- Gail Cooke