Colin Marshall sits down in Yaletown, Vancouver, British Columbia with Paul Delany, professor of English at Simon Fraser University, editor of the reader Vancouver: Representing the Postmodern City, and author of the article “Vancouver: Graveyard of Ambition?” They discuss whether it makes sense to talk about a “postmodern” city in 2013; the influence of Douglas Coupland, William Gibson, and Jeff Wall; Vancouver’s future-oriented open-endedness; his path to Vancouver from England via the United States and specifically a crumbling New York; the state of Vancouver in 1970, when he arrived; how the West End became dense in the fifties, and how Yaletown evolved; English literature’s interest in the phenomenon of the modern city, and his own; the city as a nexus of fascinations; his disappointment in Vancouver’s architectural development and its lack of internationalism, save for buildings like the downtown library, the unofficial campus for the city’s many foreign language students; all the condo towers as Ballardian “prisons with the locks on the inside”; Microsoft’s aborted entry into Vancouver’s suburbs and its subsequent relocation to downtown; what led him to ask whether Vancouver made for a graveyard of ambition; the importance of getting outside Vancouver, and regularly; the lack of a fruitful intellectual model to replace postmodernism as a means of viewing Vancouver; and how the city’s large and growing Asian presence prepares it for the future.
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