This week is turning out to be unusually busy here at Where HQ, so while I get my proverbial shit together, take a gander at this post that Dan, the author of the urbanism-focused blog Flipping Pencils, emailed over this morning. It's an interesting question he's posed here. Any ideas?
A law professor I know is looking for a novel that celebrates the virtues of city life. She can't think of one. Neither can I.
In the law and literature course that she teaches, her students read—among other works and writers—Fidelity: Five Stories by Wendell Berry. Like many of Berry's stories, these take place in Port Williams, a fictional rural community in Kentucky. I haven't read these particular stories but they are, I'm told, complex and subtle and celebrate what Berry thinks are the virtues of life in a small farming community.
Is there fiction that does the same thing for big cities?
"I've combed through my book shelves," the professor says, "and I can't find anything that treats an urban community as the kind of 'value' protective environment that Berry seems to have created."
Cities play important roles in lots of fiction. As settings, of course. As characters in their own right—think of Dublin in Ulysses or Dubliners by James Joyce, for example. As metaphors and images. But, like the professor, I can't think of any novels or stories that explicitly celebrate the moral and community virtues of city life.
There's got to be something, doesn't there?
Tell us what we're missing by adding a comment to this post.
Please direct any commentary on this one to the original post, linked below.
Wanted: Novel that Celebrates City Life (Flipping Pencils)