A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ah, this one is going to be somewhat difficult to define as a genre, for while it seems to have the trappings of an Urban Fantasy, what, with magicians in New York City, it's something a bit more and a bit less than what the genre usually offers.
What do I mean? I mean that it feels more like a collection of short stories with the same characters, with each story being a commentary on life, living in the city, on friendship, on love, on action and inaction, on power and apathy, on pure, plain luck.
The title is very close to what the whole book is about, too, oddly enough, and while it's never entirely about a dreaming city, the amount of magic, the oddness, the weird doors to steampunk realities, subways as open maws, or pirates kidnapping the wrong Boy, it's a strange New York, even by the standards we all seem to hold for the city. :)
I had a great time reading it, but I learned very quickly not to expect more than a number of vignettes, not an overarching plot... although there are definitely threaded themes.
Is this about M and his life? Or is this actually about the city? Maybe it doesn't really matter. The writing invites us into careful reads and very interesting interactions among friends, of funny commentaries and fairly awesome magical surprises. But more than anything, we're invited to come along for a ride with a lucky slacker, M, who isn't always as he seems and sometimes even rises above his Switzerland to venture upon a tiny, tiny taste of heroism.
This is definitely the right book for you if you love much more substantial magical realism stories that have a lot to say about living in the modern world, about growing up, or not growing up, and finding balance in it all.
Thanks, Netgalley, for the ARC!
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