Celestial Weasel (celestialweasel) wrote,
Celestial Weasel

Sex and the City and the City - where Palahniuk meets Blahnik

By China Miéville and Candace Bushnell. Read the hilarious adventures when Carrie and friends visit Besźel, particularly the scenes where Carrie has to 'unsee' Mr Big in Ul Qoma, and where Samantha is caught and deported by Breach for crossing between the two cities.

To my mild surprise I liked The City And The City. I have in my mind the idea that I don't like Mieville, which actually isn't particlarly true. I was irked by him on TV doing the 'my teachers said that SF wasn't literature but it is' schtick which to me seems like fighting the last war but one, and I thought Perdito Street Station (a) slightly interminable and (b) rather reminiscent of Lord Valentine's Castle. However I liked his collection of short stories and Un Lun Dun, though it was a bit flabby, I thought.
So, although I saw The City And The City in a bookshop in Helsinki (an appropriate sort of place, I thought) I didn't buy it, and I only found it by chance in the local library as it was in the general fiction section which I was only looking at as someone was struggling with the self-service machine.

Having read the book I am vaguely nonplussed by some of the reviews I have read, which seemed to suggest that the nature of the cities was supposed to be a big surprise, which it isn't at all. The blurb on the copy I got out of the library is deliberately teasing, but I wonder whether that (along with it being labelled as 'fiction' and the picture on the cover) was to hide the nasty Urban Fantasy cooties. However, the actual novel doesn't really hide anything, things are introduced very quickly and the description of what is going on is, if anything, slightly laboured. Or is the nature of 'Breach' supposed to be ambiguous? Are we supposed to wonder if there are supernatural powers involved?
Nor did I really think that the 'double weight' of explaining what's going on make the book suffer relative to normal detective novels as a couple of reviewers have suggested. But maybe they have read too little or too good detective fiction.
My main complaint about it is that the McGuffin is too obviously a McGuffin detached from the rest of the novel.

A much better attempt at a detective novel than The Cockney Policeman's Badger, needless to say.

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