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Books about Vancouver

Though often overlooked as one of the great West Coast cities, Vancouver, BC synthesizes many of the most appealing qualities of its American counterparts. The Canadian outpost combines San Francisco’s walkability, Portland’s livability, Seattle’s seaside surroundings, and Los Angeles’ slickness, all in a carefully designed urban setting. The city’s current state is the result of development that has taken place over the past several decades. Yet Vancouver’s skyscrapers, gleaming condominium towers and urban center can make it difficult for the uninitiated visitor to see everything else that the city has to offer: These four books look deeper to reveal a much more distinctively textured Northwest metropolis.

Vancouver: Representing the Postmodern City edited by Paul Delany

While parts of Simon Fraser University professor Paul Delaney’s academic reader on Vancouver have become less relevant over time, other parts have become more valuable by highlighting the artistic, architectural, and commercial elements of the city that have best weathered the building bubbles and waves of immigration. Delany also considers how the city has been represented in architecture and the arts, and explores Vancouver as the setting for the novels of notable resident William Gibson. Though one might assume that a sci-fi novelist would appreciate Delaney’s futuristic approach to the city, Delany told me that after he handed Gibson a copy of Representing the Postmodern City for an autograph, the writer returned it with an unambiguous inscription: “No mo’ po-mo!”

Read the whole thing, which also includes Douglas Coupland, Charles Demers, and Timothy Taylor, at Bookforum. I assure you that its passive-voice sentences somehow found their way in during editing. See also my previous Bookforum syllabus on Western literary expats in postwar Japan. (The next should similarly cover Korea.)

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