When I bought this book, I thought it is a memoir where the story of Istanbul is told as a part of the author's life. However, when I started reading it, I found it something different. I do not know what the word that should describe this book is, but I did not find it a memoir or a story of a city.
The book holds all the contradictions that you see in Istanbul. Despite all the colours, joy and beauty you find there, you still feel some sort of sadness. This book describes this sadness over the Ottoman Empire, you can feel this `melancholy' as the word used in the book in each chapter of it, in the author's childhood, in other writers' books about Istanbul, in the paintings described in the book, even in the family relations with others and the westernization process of Istanbul. You can feel the love this author holds for his city to the degree that the sadness he feels for it covers every aspect of his life.
The book describes in depth what has been written about Istanbul. It analyses the Western view of Istanbul and the Istanbullus' view of their city. It is true that outsiders see the city from a different point of view. What attracts them is different than what attracts you as a local citizen. It is surprising - and it is true till this moment- how cities like Istanbul try to satisfy the West. If something is not considered western- or does not get acceptance from the West, it is changed immediately. That is why many of the city's `pictures' or `traditions' were replaced by others.
The last section in this book is the part which can be considered a memoir where the writer starts writing more about his life, and not about his views of other authors or painters.
It is a good book to be read if you know Istanbul as it gives you a different perspective.