The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City

Overview

Should neighborhoods change? Is wearing a suit a good way to quit smoking? Why do people think that if you do one thing, you’re against something else? Is monogamy a trick? Why isn’t making the city more fun for you and your friends a super-noble political goal? Why does a computer last only three years? How often should you see your parents? How should we behave at parties? Is marriage getting easier? What can spam tell us about the world?

Misha Glouberman’s friend and ...

See more details below
Paperback
$8.84
BN.com price
(Save 32%)$13.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (16) from $3.05   
  • New (8) from $5.63   
  • Used (8) from $3.05   
The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.27
BN.com price

Overview

Should neighborhoods change? Is wearing a suit a good way to quit smoking? Why do people think that if you do one thing, you’re against something else? Is monogamy a trick? Why isn’t making the city more fun for you and your friends a super-noble political goal? Why does a computer last only three years? How often should you see your parents? How should we behave at parties? Is marriage getting easier? What can spam tell us about the world?

Misha Glouberman’s friend and collaborator, Sheila Heti, wanted her next book to be a compilation of everything Misha knew. Together, they made a list of subjects. As Misha talked, Sheila typed. He talked about games, relationships, cities, negotiation, improvisation, Casablanca, conferences, and making friends. His subjects ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. But sometimes what had seemed trivial began to seem important—and what had seemed important began to seem less so.

The Chairs Are Where the People Go is refreshing, appealing, and kind of profound. It’s a self-help book for people who don’t feel they need help, and a how-to book that urges you to do things you don’t really need to do.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The city in question is Toronto, where Glouberman lives and plies his trades as instructor in improvisation and charades, and artistic impresario. These plainspoken, idiosyncratic essays, transcribed by Heti, a friend and fellow organizer, of their lecture series Trampoline Hall, coalesce cozily around the patient, earnest, well-intentioned voice of the speaker. Doled out is sanguine, youth-oriented advice such as how to make friends in a new city ("It's useful to identify what you like to do"), why going to parties should be fun and constructive, and the importance of placing chairs as close to the stage as possible ("Everyone should know these things"). The platitudes are self-explanatory, but prove so understated as to be frequently hilarious. Examples are observations on manners and teaching an audience to ask good questions ("What I warn people against is feelings of pride"). During the long-winded account of how he formed a neighborhood residents' association to block the opening of noisy bars, Glouberman concludes with a healthy endorsement of compromise—a realization that surprised even himself. Eliminating antagonism is one of the author's pets, as well as learning how to be decisive (like when quitting smoking) and simply accept unhappiness as an ongoing state of striving. As part of his work, he shares many tips on playing charades and easing communication with other games, like play fighting; overall, he dispenses the nondidactic wisdom of an avuncular sage. (July)
From the Publisher
“A triumph of what might be called conversational philosophy . . . The world is better for these humane and hilarious essays.” —The New Yorker

“[A] glorious collection of essays . . . deeply hip and also endearing . . . The general message is collaboration amid density, hilarity despite and with all due respect for (some of) the rules.” —Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times

“These plainspoken, idiosyncratic essays . . . coalesce cozily around the patient, earnest, well-intentioned voice of the speaker. . . The platitudes are self-explanatory, but prove so understated as to be frequently hilarious . . . overall, he dispenses the nondidactic wisdom of an avuncular sage.” —Publishers Weekly

“The title of this offbeat guide by Canadian improvisation instructor Glouberman is somewhat of a misnomer, as the 72 short chapters actually contain the author’s thoughts and opinions about life in general. For instance, he explains why computers last only three years and why wearing a suit is a good way to quit smoking. Glouberman reduces many aspects of socialization to game playing, and advises the reader how to be good at charades, for instance, or how to fight in gibberish. The book is surprisingly entertaining and offers enjoyable browsing.” —Library Journal

“A bounty of short, sound advice and commentary from a Canadian improvisational-theatre instructor . . . Transcribing the author’s words verbatim produces fresh, pithy perspectives on a wide range of diverse subjects, issues, pleasures and irritants.” —Kirkus Reviews

“If you’re searching for a gift for that student who is ending her academic career or about to take a job in a strange new city, you could do worse than this modest, idiosyncratic version of an urban survival manual . . . Glouberman is consistently reasonable, self-effacing and creative as he poses at least tentative solutions to these dilemmas, while discoursing on thornier and more abstract subjects, like whether monogamy is a trick or how we might go about creating meaningful ritual to serve a secular society . . . It’s pleasant to imagine sharing a coffee with Misha Glouberman in a Toronto café, exploring some of life’s recurring mysteries. Until that opportunity presents itself, this book is an admirable substitute.” —Shelf Awareness

“An odd and satisfying blend of philosophy, self-help, and, improbably, charade game theory. Misha Glouberman wins you over with a simple and good-spirited reasonableness that leaves you feeling uplifted by the power a voice of common sense can still have in the world. The Chairs Are Where the People Go reads like the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin as told to David Byrne.” —JONATHAN GOLDSTEIN, contributing editor to This American Life and author of Lenny Bruce Is Dead

 

“Sheila Heti is the patron saint of raconteurs. Misha Glouberman is a raconteur. The result is a compendium of riffs on a variety of interesting subjects. Misha stays serious throughout. Sheila stays calm. The result is very funny.” —DAVE HICKEY, author of The Invisible Dragon and Air Guitar

 

“A clever, thoughtful commentary on modern urban life, illuminating everything from how to deal with annoying neighbors to how to run an improv class.” PHILIPP MEYER, author of American Rust

“The book initially seems a series of exercises in studied naiveté. Then Glouberman admits to waking up in the middle of the night with panic attacks about the charades class he’s developed and taught for years, and the tone changes. You, too, start to remember the difficulty and the crucial seriousness of impracticality, of relearning unpracticed behavior, and of life itself.” —SARAH MANGUSO, author of The Two Kinds of Decay

 

“This breezy but smart book tells you everything you need to know about how best to play charades, the dilemmas of being an urban activist, how to set up chairs, why wearing a suit might help you give up smoking, and many other things.  It lulls you into thinking you've got it sorted out only to suddenly become surprisingly insightful and even moving.” —BRIAN EVENSON, author of Altmann's Tongue and Baby Leg

 

“The ethos that emerges from The Chairs Are Where the People Go — and I say “emerges” because it is only ever implicit —offers a possible way out of America’s inwardly focused mess. Glouberman and Heti never admonish or direct, but as a reader, seeing empathy in practice is helpful and encouraging — even, and maybe especially, if it’s demonstrated through an improv game.” —Jessica Gross, The Rumpus

 

  “[The Chairs Are Where the People Go] almost makes me think of Demetri Martin giving up on being a comedian, and becoming a philosopher.” —Jason Diamond, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

 

The Chairs Are Where The People Go is sort of an Advanced Urban Studies, about the aesthetics of the everyday, and how to get along with everyone else while learning to enjoy yourself more creatively. For someone like me who hates the genre (is it a genre?), it does for self-help books what Moby Dick did for the novel.” —Chris Estey, KEXP.org

 

“But these brief essays — most are just a page or two long — pile onto each other in an interesting, even hypnotic fashion (that’s Heti’s hand at work). As Glouberman explains why he enjoys making actors babble gibberish at each other, and as he lists some of the most difficult charades clues he’s ever encountered (including Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, Guam, and 1984), you start to, grudgingly at first, fall for the guy . . . When you get near the end of Chairs, you realize that all the stories have a common theme: Glouberman is most interested in teaching people how to communicate. That’s a decidedly urban goal—cities would not be tolerable places without effective communication-but it's also a beautifully human goal. What Glouberman has learned from teaching and finding compromises and community with his neighbors can be used everywhere, to make life better for everyone. Without the struggle to find food or to simply stay alive, he can focus on bettering the fundamental glue that holds us all together.” —Paul Constant, The Stranger

 

“There is definitely something about Misha Glouberman that makes us want to hang out inside his head for a little while.” —Renee Ghert-Zand, The Forward

Library Journal
The title of this offbeat guide by Canadian improvisation instructor Glouberman is somewhat of a misnomer, as the 72 short chapters actually contain the author's thoughts and opinions about life in general. For instance, he explains why computers last only three years and why wearing a suit is a good way to quit smoking. Glouberman reduces many aspects of socialization to game playing, and advises the reader how to be good at charades, for instance, or how to fight in gibberish. The book is surprisingly entertaining and offers enjoyable browsing.
Kirkus Reviews

A bounty of short, sound advice and commentary from a Canadian improvisational-theatre instructor.

Together with good friend Heti, Glouberman, a former manners columnist, facilitates the popular Trampoline Hall spoken-word series, where amateur lecturers take center stage. Heti, consistently awestruck by her co-collaborator's vast knowledge base, decided to team up with Glouberman on a book elucidating "everything he knows." Transcribing the author's words verbatim produces fresh, pithy perspectives on a wide range of diverse subjects, issues, pleasures and irritants. With a collective slant toward the younger reader, Glouberman's sage, instructional and often unintentionally hilarious commentary addresses how to navigate urban Toronto life while respecting others' personal space ("A city is a place where you can be alone in public, and where you have that right"), how to make friends ("You'll have to spend time with people who seem initially interesting but then turn out not to be"), acquiesce leadership roles, learn manners and some unconventional chatter on what he believes energizes cocktail parties ("people's fear of being seen not talking to anyone"). While some of his advice borders on whimsy, the author shines when he shares personal anecdotes and revelations—e.g., his civic involvement in the development of a local neighborhood Resident's Association advocating against the proliferation of noisy nightclubs in residential areas. He saves his greatest revelation for last in describing how he quit a heavy smoking habit using a self-rewarding method and the development of a conscious, steely decisiveness that continues to fortify his life today.

Perceptive musings ready-made for artistically inspired readers and those with short attention spans.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865479456
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • Publication date: 7/5/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 232,105
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

MISHA GLOUBERMAN is a performer, facilitator, and artist who lives in Toronto.

SHEILA HETI is the author of three books of fiction: The Middle Stories, Ticknor, and How Should a Person Be?. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney’s, n + 1, and The Guardian. She regularly conducts interviews for The Believer.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

1. People’s Protective Bubbles Are Okay

 

I hear people complain that, for instance, in this city, people don’t say hi on the street or make eye contact on the subway. And people try to remedy this problem by doing public art projects that are meant to rouse the bourgeoisie from their slumber. But that’s ridiculous! It’s perfectly reasonable for people not to want to see your dance performance when they are coming home from work. People are on the subway because they’re getting from one place to another, and for all you know, they’re coming from a job that involves interacting with lots and lots of people, and going to a home where there’s a family where they’re going to interact with lots more people. And the subway’s the one place where they can have some quiet time, get some reading done, not have to smile, not have to make eye contact. That’s what a city is: a city is a place where you can be alone in public, and where you have that right. It’s necessary to screen people out. It would be overwhelming if you had to perceive every single person on a crowded subway car in the fullness of their humanity. It would be completely paralyzing. You couldn’t function. So don’t try to fix this. There is no problem.

 

Copyright © 2011 by Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

1 People's Protective Bubbles Are Okay 3

2 How to Make Friends in a New City 4

3 The Uniqlo Game 6

4 Going to the Gym 7

5 How to Be Good at Playing Charades 9

6 Don't Pretend There Is No Leader 12

7 The Chairs Are Where the People Go 15

8 How to Teach Charades 17

9 Miscommunication Is Nice 20

10 The Gibberish Game 21

11 The Residents'Association 23

12 There Are Some Games I Won't Play with My Friends 36

13 Social Music 37

14 Manners 39

15 How to Improvise, and How Not to Not Improvise 42

16 The Crazy Parts 46

17 Charging for My Classes 48

18 What Is a Game? 50

19 Spam 51

20 Margaux 55

21 Charades Homework 56

22 Harvard and Class 59

23 The Rocks Game 66

24 Some Video on the Internet 68

25 People Who Take My Classes 70

26 Shut Up and Listen 71

27 Is Monogamy a Trick? 72

28 The Conducting Game 75

29 Sitting on the Same Side of the Table 78

30 Seeing My Friends Drunk for the First Time 81

31 A Decision Is a Thing You Make 84

32 All the Games Are Meant to Solve Problems, but Problems Are Unpleasant 89

33 Home Maladies 90

34 Keeping Away People Who Would Be Disappointed 92

35 The Happiness Class 93

36 The Converge/Diverge Game 98

37 Going to Parties 101

38 Kensington Market 103

39 Keeping People Quiet 108

40 Feeling Like a Fraud 110

41 Negotiation 111

42 Fighting Games 113

43 What Experimental Music Is For 118

44 These Projects Don't Make Money 119

45 Seeing Your Parents Once a Week 122

46 Asking a Good Question 123

47 A Mind Is Not a Terrible Thing to Measure 125

48 Doing One Thing Doesn't Mean You're Against Something Else 128

49 Get Louder or Quit 129

50 Why Robert McKee Is Wrong About Casablanca 130

51 Conferences Should Be an Exhilarating Experience 132

52 Improvised Behavior 139

53 Storytelling Is Not the Same Thing as Conversation 140

54 Introducing People in the Classes 141

55 Making the City More Fun for You and Your Privileged Friends Isn't a Super-Noble Political Goal 143

56 Seeing John Zorn Play Cobra 145

57 Impostor Syndrome 148

58 Nimbyism 149

59 Conducting from the Center of a Circle 151

60 Why Noise Music? 153

61 Absenteeism 154

62 Failure and Games 155

63 Why a Computer Only Lasts Three Years 156

64 What Are These Classes For? 157

65 Who Are Your Friends? 159

66 Neighborhoods Change 160

67 Atheism and Ritual 162

68 Social Capital 164

69 Sitting Down and Listening as a Role 165

70 Everyone's Favorite Thing and Unfavorite Thing Are Different 167

71 Finding an Ending 168

72 Wearing a Suit All the Time Is a Good Way to Quit Smoking 169

Acknowledgments 175

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    Recommend!

    Chairs are Where the People Go is a fun group of essays. There is something for everyone. These short pieces are engaging and insightful. I really enjoyed this book and maybe I even learned something.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)