Late last week I finished China Mieville’s latest,
The City &
ytiC ehT. TC & CT is a detective story,
it’s not just any detective story (what
a "police procedural"). In terms of theoretical richness, this one holds
even with Perdido Street Station and The Scar. Mieville creates a
pair of cities fraught with boundary in.discretions. Citizens from Beszel and Ul
Qoma pass by each other every day, but as they do so they must unsee people and
things from the other city. Even where the borders become confusing
overlaps, in cross-hatched zones likely to draw heavy traffic from autos and
pedestrians, unseeing remains a necessary tactic (sort of the opposite of
panoptic conditioning; unseeing here as deliberate, uneasy negligence).
Political, jurisdictional consequences are of course tied to this cities-wide
condition. Within this intricate third-spacious scene, Mieville works up a novel
that jets along with surprising acceleration: mystery elements, hazy figures,
and ethereal domains, also detective work that relies on the knowledge available
even while deliberately unseeing and smudge-remembering what is present
(that is, a kind of audiovisually unconfirmed felt sense).
I’d say more, but I already returned the copy to
Collin, who both recommended it and lent
it to me, and since it was a borrowed copy, no margin notes, no dog-eared pages.
But this entry is to say, pick it up. It’s a lively, quick read, very much the
sort of thing you still have time for even if you feel summer fading to fall.