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Liesl SchillingerBlending history, anecdote and reporting with morsels of local flavor, Apple creates a useful and recognizable miniature portrait of each city in only about 10 pages per. His voice is knowing but not supercilious, and when he feels enthusiasm he doesn't hesitate to show it. Charleston, he writes, ''has jasmine-scented streets and aristocratic houses'' whose porches (called piazzas by the locals) ''are positioned to catch ocean breezes.'' Describing the gardens at nearby Middleton Place, he gets downright poetic: they're ''anchored by a pair of lakes shaped like a butterfly's open wings.'' When visiting Vancouver, he tells us to ''conspire to arrive by ship'' because the city ''looks its best from the water, with its shiny glass towers rising like Xanadu against a backdrop of indigo peaks.'' Of the Wildwood restaurant in Portland, Ore., where he has feasted on sesame-crusted deep-fried oysters, he recalls, ''The last time we went (sigh!) the street outside was carpeted with fallen cherry blossoms.''
— The New York Times