Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson
A Tour of Dream Cities, Nightmare Cities, and Everywhere in Between

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review

There’s much to admire here, but the sheer mass of information—and hundreds of footnotes, many quite fascinating (“the subliminal sense of unease towards pleasure parks is evident in the ease with which it is turned into dystopia—Westworld, The Prisoner, Eurobosch, Tommy’s Holiday Camp”)—often overwhelms.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

For as long as humans have gathered in cities, those cities have had their shining—or shadowy—counterparts. Imaginary cities, potential cities, future cities, perfect cities. It is as if the city itself, its inescapable gritty reality and elbow-to-elbow nature, demands we call into being some alternative, yearned-for better place.

 

This book is about those cities. It’s neither a history of grand plans nor a literary exploration of the utopian impulse, but rather something different, hybrid, idiosyncratic. It’s a magpie’s book, full of characters and incidents and ideas drawn from cities real and imagined around the globe and throughout history. Thomas More’s allegorical island shares space with Soviet mega-planning; Marco Polo links up with James Joyce’s meticulously imagined Dublin; the medieval land of Cockaigne meets the hopeful future of Star Trek. With Darran Anderson as our guide, we find common themes and recurring dreams, tied to the seemingly ineluctable problems of our actual cities, of poverty and exclusion and waste and destruction. And that’s where Imaginary Cities becomes more than a mere—if ecstatically entertaining—intellectual exercise: for, as Anderson says, “If a city can be imagined into being, it can be re-imagined.” Every architect, philosopher, artist, writer, planner, or citizen who dreams up an imaginary city offers lessons for our real ones; harnessing those flights of hopeful fancy can help us improve the streets where we live.

 

Though it shares DNA with books as disparate as Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Jane Jacobs’s Death and Life of Great American Cities, there’s no other book quite like Imaginary Cities. After reading it, you’ll walk the streets of your city—real or imagined—with fresh eyes.

 
 

About Darran Anderson

See more books from this Author
Darran Anderson is an Irish writer. He is a co-editor of 3:AM Magazine.
 
Published April 6, 2017 by University of Chicago Press. 576 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Imaginary Cities
All: 1 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Below average
on Jan 23 2017

There’s much to admire here, but the sheer mass of information—and hundreds of footnotes, many quite fascinating (“the subliminal sense of unease towards pleasure parks is evident in the ease with which it is turned into dystopia—Westworld, The Prisoner, Eurobosch, Tommy’s Holiday Camp”)—often overwhelms.

Read Full Review of Imaginary Cities: A Tour of D... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Rate this book!

Add Review
×