In this collection of essays, New Yorker staff writer Ian Frazier, coming from the perspective of a Midwestern transplant, offers a more humanizing look at the city. Where many people are in such a rush that they don't even notice the glaring things, Frazier takes time to examine plastic bags caught in trees (a bit obsessed with this subject, he invents a bag snatcher to remove them; there are three essays about the bags), a makeshift shrine to a murdered school teacher, or the detritus strewn along Route 3 in New Jersey: "Scattered through the grass and weeds for miles were large, bright-colored plastic sequins. Oddly, I knew where they had come from. Once, while on the bus, I saw a parade float—probably from the Puerto Rican Day parade, held in the city—pull up alongside and then speed by. A car must have been towing it, though I don’t remember the car. The float was going at least seventy, shimmying and wobbling, banners flapping, and these sequins were blowing off it in handfuls and billowing behind." I should point out that the reason he notices the sequins is because he has attempted to walk fifteen miles along the highway, from his hometown to the Lincoln Tunnel, a feat that proves more complicated than he anticipated.
Funny, poignant, and graceful, these essays are reminders of the wonders that happen all the time in the city, and how often they are taken for granted, overlooked.