Summer finally hit New England. I spent a lovely, hot Saturday wandering around Davis Square’s ArtBeat. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for ten years and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful I live in such a great area.
I also finished reading Christopher Priest’s The Inverted World over the weekend, published by the fabulous New York Review of Books Classics. They really publish some amazing stuff. I don’t think I’ve read any of the series and not liked it to some degree. This is a strange and interesting story about a city constantly on the move. It’s trundled along on rails that must be laid ahead of the city and removed after it has passed. The inhabitants of the city is governed by a Guild system built around moving the city but most know nothing of the outside world. Helman Mann becomes an apprentice to the Future Guild becoming responsible for plotting the city’s path. As he ventures outside the city and learns about their fragile existence and why the city must constantly move, his loyalties are put to the test. I won’t ruin the ending but suffice it to say, it’s thought provoking to say the least. Jonathan Lethem said this about The Inverted World: “A somber psychedelic journey through a landscape that seems a collaboration between Breugel the Elder and M.C. Escher, Priest’s book is an engine of epiphany, and a formal marvel: a narrative in the exact shape of the conundrum it presents.”
I quote Lethem because I started reading his forthcoming novel Chronic City after finishing Priest’s book. I haven’t read all of his books but I’m not sure if makes a difference or not. Kind of strange is the best I can come up with right now to describe it. I’m eager to see where’s he going with this. It’s also another novel set in New York. I’m on this strange New York kick. I should start a Boston one after this.
Also, if you haven’t seen this already, you should check out author Marc Fitten’s website where he’s traveling to 100 independent bookstores around the country. We were his fifth visit. He’s at number thirty five now!
. . .can’t wait for you to follow-up on chronic city . . . “kind of strange” compels!
if you are still in a “New York kick” mind frame – try Kevin Baker’s City of Fire Trilogy – historic New York that comes alive
Paradise Alley – Irish/Draft Riots/one of the creapest characters I’ve ever read about
Dreamland – end of Gangs of New York time/amusement parks
Stiver’s Row – Harlem/early Malcom X
some of the same relatives of the same characters cross over from one book to the next
I find myself thinking of some of the characters ofter since reading this trilogy
You might also like Hey Day by Kurt Anderson – starts in NY and travel to Cali – historic also