cover image Standing Still in a Concrete Jungle

Standing Still in a Concrete Jungle

Justin Nobel. Zoom, $12 paper (108p) ISBN 978-0-615-70775-4

Nobel has hit upon a curious literary mechanism. He stays in a single spot for an entire day and makes observations about the people and things he sees. In this particular collection of short pieces, he focuses on various locations in New York City%E2%80%94a subway car, a bridge in Central Park, a Park Slope cafe, a cemetery in Queens, and a Bronx street corner are all places Nobel lingers. Through his observations, the author aims to make some broader statements about humanity. While this experiment may hold readers' attention on Nobel's blog, it fails to sustain a 100-page compilation. Instead of painting an intimate sense of place or providing wisdom gleaned from everyday life, the author simply collects minutiae. Additionally, Nobel's prose is often pretentious, and many readers will likely find themselves frustrated by what might have been a fascinating construct.