Sunday, July 26, 2009

The City & ytiC ehT

Late last week I finished China Mieville's latest, The City & ytiC ehT. TC & CT is a detective story, but it's not just any detective story (what Mieville calls 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.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at July 26, 2009 10:15 PM to Reading Notes