[A] bracing tonic for the ongoing flood of sentimental, snarky and just plain stupid writing about Texas’ capital ... This is an intensely engaging book, the record of a writer intensely engaged with his subject.
Heymann’s stories marry the keen eye of a natural historian with a writer’s gift for lyrical detail.
[W]hile Heymann’s prose is loud, honest, and flat-out funny, his book is a grave reminder that Austin’s charming character and remarkable landscape are largely endangered by Austinites themselves.
[A]nyone who has ever attended a lecture by David Heymann understands his gift for storytelling ... In the tradition of all good storytellers, his stories evolve, each tale taller than the last.
The author’s descriptions ... are beautifully done, as is his touching acceptance of a fledgling professional practice as it emerges from wounded ideals.
As told by a young architect who tries (but not very hard and not very successfully) to advocate for better building decisions, it’s, in Heymann’s words, ‘a coming of age story about complicity.’
The University of Texas at Austin professor of architecture has channeled some of his energy into fiction. His first book, “My Beautiful City Austin,” published last month, is a bildungsroman about a young architect in Austin.
The book would make a great gift for anyone who is an architect, thinking of becoming one, considering hiring one, or recovering from having done so.
[Heymann] comes off as a sort of Matthew McConaughey of Architecture & Letters, which isn’t to undercut his clear intelligence, but more to convey his laid-back swagger and the confidence with which he fires his darts.
The author can turn a phrase: ‘Facts, politics, money: the [Barton] Springs are gradually being strangled, as one landscape takes over another, like starlings, or hydrilla, or antibiotic-resistant strep.’
The book ... uses an oversexed hippie tree-trimmer and some frat brothers to complete the picture of a town that wants to ‘stay weird.’
Heymann explores gentrification with a collection of seven stories, My Beautiful City Austin, revolving around an architect who, to his dismay, designs the type of houses often blamed for ruining the city’s charm.
[B]itingly funny ... it reads like a diary and feels like a conversation you’d have over drinkswith your wittiest, bitchiest architecture friend who knows Texas — and Texans — well.
[Heymann] recently published one of the best descriptions of Austin I have ever read ... the descriptions are laugh-out-loud funny.
[An] account ... of the challenges of life as an architect, and in particular working with clients with grand visions that are not necessarily aligned with ... sensitivity to the urban and natural landscape.
Using fiction, Heymann paints a sharply dynamic picture of the architectural consequences of Austin’s rapid growth
You will read it with a smile on your face, shaking your head in equal parts befuddlement and identification.
[The] descriptive passages ... hold their own against the best of John McPhee...
In every chapter ... a young architect designs an ideal Austin Home. Each time that perfect house never gets built...”