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URBAN DWELLINGS by Katherine Durack


A Cincinnati Love Song

by Katherine Durack

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 2011

A transplanted suburbanite revels in the delights of her new urban residence and experiences.

“Some people see cities as cold capitals of commerce lacking in humor or humanity.” This observation of the newly transplanted author is certainly not a sentiment that she shares. Durack’s plunge into an environment that many have fled over the past few decades is purposeful and committed. Her thoughts represent a salute to what generally makes a city great, and what makes the city of Cincinnati even greater. She “celebrate[s] the joy and the richness of the community that welcomed” her with more than 50 short stories on Cincinnati’s art, architecture, history, food, sports, festivals, performances and all the other amenities that contribute to the invigorating city feel. That feel is reinforced by the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Durack’s descriptive writing of places, events and personal interactions with residents. The author’s unpretentious, quaint observations range from Frisbee players and the marvels of old elevators to the perhaps more complex analysis on how and where Henry Ford got his ideas for assembly-line auto manufacturing. This latter example is one of a few that sometimes contrast sharply with other, more mundane reflections. This contrast sometimes makes it seem like the author could not decide on the simplicity of a 130-page pocket book or a more thoughtful examination of a culturally rich city. The chapter on surveying, for example, required a trip to the library for research, while the advice on leaving grilling to the pros is more suitable for an Internet forum. There are also enough quotes in some of the chapters to merit citations (or at least a short bibliography). The author’s attitude, however, shines on its consistent tenor of the historical grandeur of institution over individual, as in depictions of the vaunted city hall or the conviction that old, large clocks were telling us that accurate time “was less certain and more precious.” That sentiment alone might capture the soul of local readers remembering a different time in history. A breezy, cheerful collection that will appeal to locals, gentrification dwellers and those with a cursory historical interest in the city of Cincinnati.