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On the neighborliness of cities

"And St. Petersburg was left without Akaky Akakiyevich, as though he had never lived there. A being disappeared, who was protected by none, dear to none, interesting to none, and who never even attracted to himself the attention of those students of human nature who omit no opportunity of thrusting a pin through a common fly and examining it under the microscope..."
-Nikolai Gogol, The Overcoat

"You can live your whole life out somewhere between Goose Island and Bronzeville without once feeling that, the week after you move, the neighbors are going to miss your place. For it isn't so much a city as it is a vast way station where three and a half million bipeds swarm with the single cry, 'One side or a leg off, I'm getting mine!' It's every man for himself in this hired air."
-Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make

August 1, 2008 in Books | Permalink