Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann:
What is this godforsaken apartment worth anyway? Half a million twenty-seven years ago. Sold the brownstone on Willow Street and made the trek to the Upper East Side. All to make Eileen happy. She loved strolling by the Great Lawn, taking her ease around the reservoir, going on jaunts down to Greenberg’s bakery. She even put a mezuzah by the front door. To protect the investment as much as anything else. Two million dollars now, they say, two point two maybe, two point four, but they can’t get the heating on before five in the morning? We can put a black man in the White House but we still can’t get toasty? We can send a mission to Mars but we have to freeze a good man’s cojones off on East Eighty-sixth Street? We can fit our BlackBerrys into our heart-side pajama pockets, but we can’t guide the steam up through the walls without a racket?
Oh, but here it comes, here it comes. The first click of the day. As if there’s a man down there wrenching open the pipes. A second tick. A third. And then a whack. Crash bang wallop. Good man, Dante. A divine comedy indeed. Abandon all hope. Jazz in the heating pipes. If only. Wake me up, Thelonious Monk. Come dwell a while in my steampipes. Visit the basement while you’re at it.