Imaginary Cities: A Tour of Dream Cities, Nightmare Cities, and Everywhere in Between

Darran Anderson. Univ. of Chicago, $22.50 (576p) ISBN 978-0-226-47030-6
Anderson, an Irish poet and urbanist, muses on all manner of nonexistent landscapes, including Plato’s Republic, Blade Runner’s dank Los Angeles, science fiction cities in space or underwater, Batman’s Gotham City, and Superman and Fritz Lang’s Metropolises. He investigates this curio shop of cities in essays that explore themes of community and identity, mythical past and speculative future, and utopia and dystopia. Anderson overwhelms with his mix of obscure lore and erudition: “The feeling of lost greatness or lost futures is a curious one, combining the sense of the transitory in the Japanese term mono no aware and the feeling of yearning Portuguese sailors call saudade.” A thesis never gels beyond pensées that range from banal (“There must be barbarians for us to convince ourselves that we are civilized”) to bizarre (he styles King Kong as a symbol of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, a “hulking gorilla emigré... rising above the bureaucrats and the liberals to command the city”). These meditations make for a diverting browse, but the book frequently strands readers in baffling alleyways without a map. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
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