Ten book Tuesday... cities and the urban experience

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Read ten tales about cities and the urban experience. Choose from factual, fiction and fantasy books...


The city and the city by China Mieville. Inspector Tyador Borlú must travel to Ul Qoma to search for answers in the murder of a woman found in the city of Besźel. "When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Bes el, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlu must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other. With shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984 The City & The City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.

Leviathan: the unauthorised biography of Sydney by John Birmingham. An electrifying, epic history of the city of Sydney as you have never seen her before. 'To peer deeply into this ghost city, the one lying beneath the surface, is to understand that Sydney has a soul and that it is a very dark place indeed.' Beneath the shining harbour, amid the towers of global greed and deep inside the bad-drugs madness of the suburban wastelands, lies Sydney's shadow history. Terrifying tsunamis, corpse-robbing morgue staff, killer cops, neo-Nazis, power junkies and bumbling SWOS teams electrify this epic tale of a city with a cold vacuum for a moral core. Birmingham drills beneath the cover story of a successful multicultural metropolis and melts the boundaries between past and present to reveal a ghost city beneath the surface of concrete and glass.  This is available as an ebook.

Winters tale by Mark Heprin. New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake - orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter Lake, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young girl, who is dying. Peter Lake, a simple, uneducated man, because of a love that, at first he does not fully understand, is driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle, in a city ever alight with its own energy and beseiged by unprecedented winters, is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature.

Communion Town by Sam Thompson. The Man Booker longlisted novel is explores how each of us conjures up our own city. Every city is made of stories: stories that meet and diverge, stories of the commonplace and the strange, of love and crime, of ghosts and monsters. The iridescent, Man Booker longlisted Communion Town is reminiscent of David Mitchell's Ghostwritten and Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, it is the story of a place that never looks the same way twice: a place imagined anew by each citizen who walks through the changing streets among voices half-heard, signs half-glimpsed and desires half-acknowledged. This is the story of a city.




The city by Dean Koontz. There are millions of stories in the city—some magical, some tragic, others terror-filled or triumphant. Jonah Kirk’s story is all of those things as he draws readers into his life in the city as a young boy, introducing his indomitable grandfather, also a “piano man”; his single mother, a struggling singer; and the heroes, villains, and everyday saints and sinners who make up the fabric of the metropolis in which they live—and who will change the course of Jonah’s life forever. Welcome to The City, a place of evergreen dreams where enchantment and malice entwine, where courage and honor are found in the most unexpected corners and the way forward lies buried deep inside the heart. on order, request a copy now.

The devil in the white city by Erik Larson. Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that 'The Devil in the White City' is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.





NW by Zadie Smith. This is the story of a city. The north-west corner of a city. Here you'll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all. And many people in between. Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds. And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, cause a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwell's door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation.




Paris by Edward Rutherfurd.  Presents a multigenerational saga detailing the history of Paris, from its founding under the Romans to the hotbed of cultural activity during the 1920s and 1930s.









Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell. Written when Orwell was a struggling writer in his twenties this book documents his 'first contact with poverty': sleeping in bug-infested hostels, working as a dishwasher in Paris surviving on scraps and cigarette butts, living alongside tramps.








Tales of the city by Armistead Maupin. This is the first in a series of novels.
For more than three decades, Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture - from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to a classic novel, to a television event that entranced millions around the world. San Francisco, 1976. A naive young secretary, fresh out of Cleveland, tumbles headlong into a brave new world of laundromat Lotharios, pot-growing landladies, cut throat debutantes and Jockey Shorts dance contests. The saga that ensues is manic, romantic, tawdry, touching and outrageous.

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