How to Live, Work and Play in the City

November 25, 2011 | John Elmslie

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ChairsAll of us have at least one brilliant friend with endlessly fascinating ideas and opinions, but few of us do anything about it. Toronto novelist Sheila Heti decided to sit down with her friend Misha Glouberman and write down everything he knew.

The result of their collaboration is a lively and very readable self-help book that distills the culture of downtown Toronto.

It's called The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work and Play in the City.

Most of the chapters are a page or two long.

The opinions are Glouberman's. The editing is Heti's.

Glouberman is a wonderful talker. I was impressed by his good sense and the down-to-earth nature of his sometimes surprising opinions. Here is a sampling.

  • From Why a Computer Only Lasts Three Years -- "The typewriter that lasted for fifty years wasn't built in a world where the machines we type on on become a hundred times more powerful every three years."
  • From Kensington Market [on Pedestrian Sundays] -- "Neighborhoods that are really good, I think, are places that feel like people live there. When you throw a huge, noisy street party every Sunday, it really creates the impression that people don't live there... Who would think that what their own neighborhood needs is to have a drum circle and an amplified performance poet outside their own home every single Sunday all summer? So a festival like [Pedestrian Sundays] creates the message that the neighborhood belongs to the people who come there as an entertainment destination, not to the people who live there."
  • From Why Robert McKee Is Wrong About Casablanca -- "The idea that love is something magical, almost supernatural, in your heart, that has nothing to do with the day-to-day encounters with a real person ... has probably created more unhappiness and ruined more marriages than just about anything."