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Announcing my new Substack newsletter, Books on Cities

There have surely been better times for city aficionados than the summer of 2020. I write you from Seoul, which as I observed in the New Yorker this past spring has so far managed without serious disruptions to its everyday life. (In fact I just got back from a haircut, albeit a masked one.) But then, for the past year I’d also been planning an urbanist road trip across the United States. Needless to say, I’ve postponed it — the result of a decision process greatly clarified when Detroit and New Orleans, its starting and ending points, became two of the country’s coronavirus hot spots.

The day when we can get out into our own cities and others besides will come again. Until then, there are plenty of books about cities to be read: those published over the past fifty, sixty, seventy years, of course — many of which even the most literate urbanists haven’t got around to — but also those being published even now, as we speak. Predictions of the pandemic-hastened “end of the city,” no matter how confidently made, haven’t yet put an end to what I’ll call the “city book.” This includes no few works of city criticism, a genre I made a start at defining last year in the Guardian and on which I certainly haven’t given up, as either a reader or a writer.

Hence my launch of Books on Cities, a newsletter in which I’ll write long-form essay-reviews of books new and old about cities the world over. Though I’ve been aware of certain writers making a go of it on Substack for quite some time, it didn’t cross my mind to try until the coherence of this particular idea, which struck me as a neat fit of substance and form (and I’m nothing if not a sucker for a neat fit of substance and form). Beginning Friday, September 18th, I’ll post one piece on one city book every two weeks. As seems to be standard operating procedure on Substack, some of them will be free for anyone to read, and others will be accessible to subscribers only.

Read the whole thing at Substack.