A City DreamingA City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky

My rating: 1.5 of 5 stars

Shelve this one under “Finished because the book was not going to win.”


“Is this something that we should be worried about?”
“Do I look worried?”
“You do.”
“Best follow my example.”

Sounds intriguing does it not? The blurb is exciting, the cover is mystical, and this one liner is a great lead in.

But these are all a
BIG FAT LIE.

Reading this was like trying to follow an ADHD-crack-addict’s journal. There was no great war between the magic enigma’s of the city. There was no huge show down. And there was no reason to continue on.


“She appeared pacified, but then people had said the same of Vesuvius.”


What we were promised
was a book about a magic war threatening to tear New York apart and one lone magic man able to save it all.
What we got
was a series of short stories about a man named ‘M’ and his ramshackle cohorts in magical languity (it is a word if I say so.) There was no rhyme or reason for these stories. There was a loose (like counting runny paint as dry) timeline but nothing easily discernible. It was simply all about the year of a man named M.


“M did not understand a lot of things about his life. M thought that most of his peers were equally ignorant but less willing to admit it.”

So here is the skinny on M: he has power and for some reason he is considered the cream of the crop by two very powerful, and cranky, New York powers who rule the roosts and hate each other despite the fact that all M ever does is get high and drink and hookup with women interspersed with occasionally helping a friend or acquaintance out with whatever moronic dipshit encounter he or she has become embroiled in.

There. That is it. The entire book described in one run-on sentence.

Do not get me wrong, there are some awesome one-liners…


“But what Flamel lacked in knowledge, strength, or planning he made up for in courage, or recklessness,which in a young man is virtually the same thing.”

and a couple thinking points…

“Not at all–the world is a terrible place full of nasty people. Wise government consists of finding the biggest one and giving them enough property so that they have a personal incentive to keep everyone else in line.

hidden in the mess that was this novel.

But mostly it was an undelivered promise of action an adventure that turned out to be a series of barely understandable acid-trip episodes of one man’s life.

A quick fact check does obligate me to inform you that the world is controller by a mysterious entity called Management who is often mentioned but never explained. There are two Queens of New York who hate each other and want M on their side. And apparently this magic world exists parallel or beneath the real world. But those strands of facts hardly does a novel make.


“This insistence that questions have answers, it’s one of your less attractive qualities.”

And requiring books to have actual PLOTS THAT THEY FOLLOW is one of mine.


Recommended for people who like feeling their brains leak out if their ears and throwing things in frustration.

Advertisements