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I read books, I write about books, I would probably marry a book if I could find one who liked me enough. Three words to describe me mature, irresponsible, contradictory, unreliable...oh...that's four...

Three Books About Cities

The City & the City - China MiƩville Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman Invisible Cities - Italo Calvino, William Weaver

This article is one of a regular series I write over at LitReactor.com. I take three books, all on the same subject, and use them to talk about the different ways each author has approached the same material. It's my method of digging beneath the surface of a book and thinking about what deeper messages might lie there.


Here's the intro. Click on the link if you'd like to read the whole article (I hope you do!)



“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.”


Writers don’t have to live in cities. Steinbeck found life swarming in the waterfronts of Monterey; Faulkner in the dusty streets of Oxford, Mississippi; Shirley Jackson in the small town conspiracies of North Bennington, Vermont. But like Baudelaire said, there’s nothing to beat an hour on the pavement of a great city to supply a writer with material.

Cities take on personalities, develop identities. We compare them, the way we do people; befriend them; become heated about them in discussions; are surprised by their real life appearance when we visit them for the first time, as though we are taking tea with an acquaintance we have discussed but never met.


The city as character walks the pages of many novels. These three writers demonstrate how wonderfully multifarious the literary city can be.