The City and The Writer
So there I was, smack in the middle of the kind of plot problems that come when you’ve written a complicated first draft through some really difficult times, when the ever-clever Rick Kleffel asks me to talk into a microphone for him. He was doing an NPR piece for All Things Considered about a pair of crime novels: A Manual of Detection by Jedediah Barry, and The City and The City, by China Miéville. (He’s also stashed the podcast on his Agony Column, here. )
I hadn’t read the second of those books, but as we were taping, Rick made it sound so great I went out and bought one. Maybe it would take my mind off my difficulties. Maybe it would give me something to steal.
And although I have an entire bookshelf laden with novels for the Best Paperback Edgar committee that I have to read, that is work and this wasn’t, sort of. So I opened it up. And all I can say is, if you’re flailing about in an intractable rewrite, this isn’t the book you need.
A police procedural set in an alternative-universe city, beautifully, seamlessly, effortlessly created.
You read on, and on, waiting for him to put his foot wrong and knock you out of the dream, because it’s too implausible for words only it’s flat-out real, with the plot and the characters and the setting wrapped around each other like one of those Celtic designs.
A book so bloody brilliant it would make me want to burn my laptop even if things had been going smoothly.
You have to go out and buy a copy, and read it and then give it to all your friends.
Except maybe if you’re struggling with plot problems yourself. In which case, buy it and put it on a shelf.