China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

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China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby Nathan Bransford » 12 Jan 2011, 00:09

Has anyone read China Mieville's THE CITY AND THE CITY? It was the first book of Mieville's I've read and I found it utterly fascinating. It takes place in an unrevealed Eastern European country, in a city that is completely unlike any other. It is one city divided into to not in the way of old Berlin or Jerusalem, but rather divided into two cities that residents have been raised to see and unsee. Buildings can be right next to each other but known to be in a different city, and each city's residents have styles of dress and gesture that mark them as being in one city or another.

It was such a profound look at the way in which there are parts of cities we "unsee," the way divisions can give rise to a power that lives in the cracks between the opposing sides, and how deeply the place where we've grown up can shape our worldview.

Stylistically I thought it was really interesting, and the ideas were fascinating. Definitely a fan.
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby Sommer Leigh » 12 Jan 2011, 06:35

I like China's writing style very much. I read a sample of The City and The City from the first few chapters and really enjoyed it. I intend to read the whole thing. I'm also very interested in reading his newest book, Krakken. I think the story sounds wonderful, and the cover is gorgeous. It is one of those book covers I'd like to have as a poster in my office.
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby Margo » 12 Jan 2011, 07:49

Thanks for bringing this up, Nathan. Like Sommer, I read a sample and liked it. Very intriguing style. However, some very detailed reviews on the book's shortcomings - all in agreement - made me rethink and put off buying the book until I had more time and a smaller TBR pile. That, and going nuts over another book's sample chapters only to realize I hated the rest of the book - literally everything after the sample I'd read. It was like two different books for me. I was so disappointed. Guess I'm a little bit reluctant to commit to another long book without some good, detailed, articulate positive reviews. None of my irl friends have read it, so that's no help.

So I'd really like to ask anyone who has read the book and is comfortable answering...did you like the book's pace and focus?
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby Bryan Russell/Ink » 15 Jan 2011, 12:18

It's on my TBR pile, and I also have a copy of Iron Council. I've heard so many good things about this guy, and I've read some of his non-fiction, which is incredibly sharp and interesting. I don't always agree with him, but it's always an interesting sort of disagreement.
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby smasover » 21 Jan 2011, 08:51

I thought Mieville's novel was terrific, and I was kind of surprised because I don't usually read the genre that this novel (kinda sorta) fits.

Mieville's characters are socialized & coerced to ignore what is "taboo" but directly in front of them, which is profoundly weird until one realizes the way it maps to everyday experience in modern urban life. How many times have each of us who live in a city "unseen" the Nth homeless person to ask for change as we walk down a sidewalk, or the heroin addict nodding out against a storefront? Sly and unsettling.

I found the setting and premise more engaging than the murder mystery that forms the spine of the plot, and found the resolution of the plot to be much to tidy for my taste. But maybe that's more an artifact of my usual distance from this genre than anything about the novel in particular.
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby Margo » 21 Jan 2011, 09:04

smasover wrote:I thought Mieville's novel was terrific, and I was kind of surprised because I don't usually read the genre that this novel (kinda sorta) fits.



Innnteresting you would say that. I recently read an interview with the author, and he mentioned that the people who come up to tell him how much they loved this book or that book always say, "I don't usually read this genre." He's kind of a spec fic author for people who don't read spec fic.

Even though I do read spec fic, I think I shall have to give him a try, and probably soon. I can't read other people's fiction when I'm writing my own, so I'll need to read it before I finishing my plotting on my current project.
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby lac582 » 22 Jan 2011, 10:46

Like others, I've only read the sample chapters of "The City and the City", but when I was on vacation a few months ago "Perdido Street Station" was the first novel I read on my Kindle, as well as my first time reading Urban Fantasy, and it blew me away. I plowed through it. I was stunned when I got home to look it up on Amazon and realize that the paperback is over 600 pages long.

Definitely check it out. I think one of my biggest takeaways from it is really the proof that with enough skill, a writer can totally 'break the rules' and still compel the reader without annoying them or taking them out of the story.

Though I was also kind of mentally exhausted when it was finished, don't think I could jump straight from one of his novels into another without taking a break in between.
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby Falen » 24 Jan 2011, 15:46

ahhh man! China Mieville is on my short list of author's to check out, since i've heard so much good, but i still haven't gotten around to any China books.

I've really got to rectify that, post-haste. Because the description listed above sounds right up my alley
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby gskenney » 25 Jan 2011, 07:59

I've read it, and I really liked it. I'm generally a spec fic reader, a mystery reader, and a Mieville fan; the man has *such* colorful imagination! Still, some of his books work better for me than others. I adored The Scar but despite its mind-tickling premise (a railroad train goes feral) found Iron Council boring. But The City and the City is not only the best of Mieville, it's remarkable, period. Not only is it good spec fic but also good mystery. And it left me thinking for a long time about how we do in fact "unsee" whole parts of the city and world we live in. The City and the City just presents that in much more condensed form, and it really works.
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby JES » 24 Feb 2011, 08:59

The topic's probably dried up, but fwiw: I've reviewed The City and The City for Moonrat's "The Book Book" site. It's here:
http://thebookbook.blogspot.com/2011/02 ... -city.html

(Nathan, this is my first time posting on the forums. I hope this doesn't violate any policies -- please delete this reply if so, and accept my apologies!)
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby Nathan Bransford » 24 Feb 2011, 09:25

Totally fine JES, thanks for the link.
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby JES » 24 Feb 2011, 10:47

Thanks, Nathan... I'd bought the book (Kindle ed.) last summer, I think, and moved it into the "Fiction-TBR" category. Forgot it was there until you opened this topic on your forum, and then plugged it in your Friday post. Thanks so much for the reminder!
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby PR Griffin » 28 Feb 2011, 03:15

I'm definitely not a fan with regards to Mieville. Perdido street station held me for 150 painful pages of info dumping, two dimensional characters with the same voice and little interest. His imagination is wonderful, but his writing I believe lets him down. Perdido is thick on mediocre telling and short on brilliant showing. Every building/tavern/race is laboriously described and back storied. He needs judicious editing as well. Perdido could be cut by at least 2-300 pages.
I take issue with awards being given to writers who aren't great writers (I know it's my opinion but really some of his passive and telling is atrocious.) As said his imagination is a fertile land but other areas are not. It got to the point in his book where I would open up random pages and predict what errors and annoyances I could find (sad I know but hey It kept me burning merrily for hours haha)
Oh well not for everyone, but if it is genre you want coupled with great writing craft try Ursula le guin or the wonderfully verbose and equally imaginative Michael Shea. Better, earlier and finer fare. Don't believe the hype.
And in case you don't believe my rant... page 133 She came and went into the attic alone....She leant on the table, kneading her eyes suddenly and irrevocably...tears oozed from beneath her fingertips and scored their way across her face... oozed scored? in the same sentence, one is slow and the other harsh and abrasive. His endless use of adverbs...argh! Sorry sorry, a pet peeve of mine is being recommended authors as stellar new voices only to find they are a one trick pony- in Mieville's case the city as a construct of his imagination (which occurs in all his books)
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Re: China Mieville THE CITY AND THE CITY

Postby Margo » 28 Feb 2011, 08:43

PR Griffin wrote: I take issue with awards being given to writers who aren't great writers (I know it's my opinion but really some of his passive and telling is atrocious.)


Interesting thoughts. Mind you, I still haven't had a chance to read more than the first few sample pages of this book. It brings up a peeve of mine, however. It seems like the sci-fi/fantasy 'industry' isn't really keen on recognizing good writing if it's in the urban fantasy realm. If it absolutely has to recognize the subgenre that is currently keeping the genres afloat economically, then it chooses the most literary-minded male writers it can find to acknowledge.[cough] mieville bacigalupi[/cough] Then again, the 'industry' is an unsettling coupling of two genres that don't tend to like each other much (thinking of the SFWA weeding out qualifying fantasy markets while bending themselves in two a few years ago to preserve sci-fi markets paying the same rates as the fantasy markets they were disqualifying -- have always thought since then that fantasy should have its own organization so it didn't have to sit in the back of the nerd bus anymore).

PR Griffin wrote: His endless use of adverbs...argh! Sorry sorry, a pet peeve of mine is being recommended authors as stellar new voices only to find they are a one trick pony- in Mieville's case the city as a construct of his imagination (which occurs in all his books)


Uh-oh. I'm not a fan of that either.
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