Book Review: Urban Underworlds

| May 18, 2011

A review (by yours truly) of Thomas Heise’s book, Urban Underworlds: A Geography of Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture, has found its way to the online pages of the Teachers College Record.

I begin with a cheap ploy: “Urban Underworlds is a haunted book.” But as is fitting in tales of fallen spaces (which is to say, in yet another another cheap ploy) there’s a twist at the end…

Here’s an excerpt:

…if all too easily Urban Underworlds masquerades as a work of literary criticism notable for taking seriously the urban geographies that serve as backdrop, its deeper wager is that, in turn, we cannot understand the city without understanding the *fictional* force of the underworld. This means seeing not only the ways in which any number of salacious, even progressive, fictions can serve as a sleight of hand covering and justifying the urban shuntings of capitalism, but also the ways in which narratives can work from the bottom up, writing new forms into the text of the city itself.

You can read the full article here:

TCRecord: Article.

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