Readersforum's Blog

November 10, 2012

The Top 10 Cities in Literature

By Mark Binelli

Mark Binelli’s Detroit City Is the Place to Be is a nuanced portrait of a once-great American industrial city’s fall into decay, and its recent, tentative renaissance. Binelli, also a novelist and contributing editor for Rolling Stone, tells us the 10 cities that have received the finest treatment in literature, and the books to read for each.

When I started thinking about my favorite cities in literature, I quickly realized I’d need to impose a minimal number of arbitrary constraints on the game or otherwise risk burying myself. And so: no to the excruciatingly obvious (Ulysses, A Moveable Feast), and no repeat cities, either (with the exception of New York, because, come on, it’s New York; henceforth this exemption shall be referred to as “the Joseph Mitchell Clause”), and my list would be divided equally between works of fiction and nonfiction.

Also, the city in question, and this particularly applies to the novels, needed to be more than mere setting. Whatever that means; it’s fairly subjective, I know. As annoying as it can be when people refer to a city as “another character” in a book, I guess that comes closest to the sense of this last criterion.

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