Finished reading Istanbul: Memories of a City by Orhan Pamuk, a book I almost abandoned on a couple of occasions, struggling with its insipid writing style. Through a series of thematic essays, Pamuk scrutinises Istanbul, his family and growing up in the city, through an engagement with the work of other writers, photographers and painters. There is just enough charm to impel, but hindered by a narrative crammed with an exuberance of ill-assorted facts.
Visiting Istanbul this month with my daughter provided just enough provocation to wade through the pages that resemble an exhibition catalogue. I’ve not read Pamuk before, and most of the book left me ill-prepared for the last half dozen chapters where the writing soars if not to sublimity, but definitely to a type of grandeur.
I finished Istanbul today because I felt like nothing else but reading in the garden, bathed occasionally when the sun shook off the clouds. I read Istanbul, with a Beethoven piano sonata in the background, the first book I finished reading this month and the first since Doctor Faustus. By the final pages I’d grown rather attached to Pamuk’s book, which like its eponymous city, makes few concessions to its readers.