Polansky’s ‘A City Dreaming’

Daniel Polansky lives in New York, though I think he’s originally from Maryland, which gives him the advantage of being both an insider and an outsider in the Big Apple. This liminal position is one of the things that tends to make original art — think of the Irish writers in London and Paris — and may go some way to explaining why ‘A City Dreaming’ is so excellent. The novel isn’t so much about a single conflict or goal, but rather about the kind of world/New York the magician-protagonist M lives in. It’s full of quirky and often hilarious events; the scenarios are imaginative and absurd. Polansky’s world-view is something like a humorous existentialism and its form is reminiscent of European novels of the 20th century. In other words, in the world of genre, it’s formally inventive — you will find no tedious Robert McKee 3 act structure here. Thus, the novel is bound to unsettle genre readers. In short, I loved it and it’s the kind of thing genre readers should, but all too often don’t, read. Go and get it. It’s great.

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