Skip to content

Total immersion

June 1, 2011

One of the several excellent books I read on my recent tour of Turkey was Orhan Pamuk’s memoir “Istanbul.” It’s a wonderful exploration of the sad, crumbling remnant of a city in which his childhood and early adulthood was rooted, and the novelist and Nobel laureate remains both enamored with and haunted by its grim and powerful dominance over his life.

One of my favorite passages is a moment of black humor from Chapter 22, titled “On the Ships That Passed Through the Bosphorus, Famous Fires, Moving House, and Other Disasters,” where he recalls, during research for this book, reading old newspaper articles about people killing themselves by jumping into or otherwise ending up in the Bosphorus.

“However many cars that have flown into the Bosphorus over the years, the story is always the same: It’s passengers are dispatched to the watery depths, from where there is no return. …

“I should remind readers that, once cars start sinking, it’s impossible to open their doors because the pressure of the water against them is too great. At a time when an unusual number of cars were flying into the Bosphorus, one refined and thoughtful journalist, wishing to remind readers of this fact, did something rather clever: He published a survival guide, complete with beautifully drawn illustrations:

” ‘1. Don’t panic. Close your window and wait for your car to fill with water. Make sure the doors are unlocked. Also ensure that all passengers stay very still.
” ‘2. If the car continues to sink into the depths of the Bosphorus, pull up your hand brake.
” ‘3. Just as your car has almost filled with water, take one final breath of the last layer of air between the water and the car roof, slowly open the doors, and, without panicking, get out of the car.’ “

Pamuk concludes wryly, “I’m tempted to add a fourth pointer: With God’s help, your raincoat won’t get caught on the hand brake.”

“Istanbul” is a beautiful book. I’d also recommend Pamuk’s short stories, some published in the New Yorker, and his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “My Father’s Suitcase,” also reprinted in the magazine.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Mindfulness, Spontaneity and Authenticity

'The owl of Minerva'

Let the sun sink, let the dusk fall...

Bits and Pieces

"Be patient and wait. Your mud will settle. Your water will be clear." James Frey

Jazz Lily

Be the change

Sparkle With UC

Leave a Little Sparkle Wherever You Go

Admirable Deals

Admirable Deals

Grow + Glow

" You are to be valued on days you don't think you can FLY." - Ajahneik J.

The Thumbed Page

Spoilers sweetie

Readitfirst's Blog

blog for class

*May Contain Spoilers*

Read on if you want honest opinions on real books

Liz Durano

Author of Women's Fiction & Romance

Nadine Reads

Reviews, Interviews and more

The Mind of a Book Nerd

For the lovers of books


I love coffee, tea, and books.

Narrative Species

Storytelling from neurocioence to the novel

Bookmuda Triangle

3 Bookworms who don't know how to blog

%d bloggers like this: