CITY MOVES by Stephen Friedman


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What is a "Move"? Friedman quotes a string of definitions from the OED, capitalizes the word "move" whenever it appears in his text, divides his book into "Moves" instead of chapters, and invites readers to play a nonfiction Hopscotch (Julio Cortázar, 1966) by hopping about in the pages to distant "Moves." In this kaleidoscopic manner, Friedman covers such "Moves" as prehistoric cities, utopian visions, skyscrapers, concepts of home, images of community, and elements of construction--not to advance a thesis or build any systematic structure but to stimulate questions and new ways of seeing cities. There are even exhortations to make lists, answer questions, imagine this or that--which makes the whole program a little like a syllabus for an alternative school. But much of it boils down to an old-fashioned bibliographic review of the literature, summarizing and citing the theses and approaches of scholars, thinkers, and other who have written about cities. There's no denying that Friedman has done a lot of reading, and no doubt that his nonlinear, jittery "Moves" suit the complex and spontaneous nature of urban reality. Problem is, for all the structured novelty and easy erudition, this never really hits you with any bull's-eye analysis or kick-in-the-pants insights. Consider it, then, not for its ideas but as a more free-swinging than usual "Gate" (a sort of sub-Move) to the study of cities.

Pub Date: May 29th, 1989
ISBN: 07-022431-5
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
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