There's really no nice way to say this. One of the deservedly obscure authors he spends a chapter praising is described as being some kind of pedophile. This isn't a pretend metaphor in Lolita, this is Pamuk's loving description of a nobody. If that's not enough, his best description of Istanbul, one of the largest cities today, and, more importantly, in history, is mopery about his apartment and decaying wooden houses near it. To spend a day in the tiny English section of a large bookstore and see nothing but Pamuk writings everywhere put me in a decidedly bad mood.
This book can feel so perfectly paced and intimate because he spends a lifetime sitting indoors bemoaning an Istanbul which, he says, doesn't exist anymore. How he can remain isolated in a busy city year after year says more about him, his non-Turkish background, wealthier heritage, self-centered habits, etc. than it probably does about Istanbul.
I stopped reading just after he described his encyclopedic, unread and unwept literary heros, but regret avoiding Istanbul based on his descriptions. Turks don't seem to like him because of his comments about Armenians. His politics may sometimes have validity but he's mostly a spoiled man pretending to moan over himself.
Have to say, finally: my edition was the second most beautifully designed and made paperback I've ever read, with paper, type faces and space of precisely the right weight