By Ellice Weaver
Published by Avery Hill
The Book: Something City is an exploration of modern day living through representations of the lives of different groups of people in an imagined place. Segregated communities of young people, elders, fanatics, techies and the religious live side by side, interweaving and cohabiting in a city they build around themselves.
Beautifully composed establishing pages introduce us to each group before we’re taken through a short journey inside each of their worlds.
The Review: Part Black Mirror and part Ordnance Survey this new book from Avery Hill both chronicles and literally lays out the lives of people in a City that is aptly called ‘Something’. Each short chapter tells the stories that happen behind the curtain; tales that are often sharply observed. Looking like a more personalised Lowry painting, Something City is a melange of emotion and situation. We’re witness to places such as the city prison and a nudist colony, as well as the perhaps more everyday situations like an old people’s home and dinner party culture enclaves.
It is the switching situations that seem best to delineate the inentions of the storyteller. Keep moving, keep watching. Walk through the lives of these hugely different individuals. Show their place, and often lack of place, in the wider community of this mixed up jumble of a city. The cool Guardianista sets sit next to the lonely and stressed, in turn adjacent to the rough and ready. But each group is cordoned off in their own area in this anthology. Never seemingly looking over the fence at a different set, yet often unhappy with their own lot.
The art of Something City is structured like a cross between a map and a colourful ant farm. The faces of the characters often lack a full rendering and we see them as a parallel with a reflected situation in the world outside its pages. After the first reading, I began to wonder if I would be happier with more detail in these lives. We are given only a situational snapshot of the everyday anxieties of each area on the map.
Do these scenes seem imagined or real? Do they seem like a daydream or even a considered approach? At times, they seem a touch forced for my taste but I began to realise that the nature of a very short incursion into someone’s life might seem this way. Do we truly see beyond the obvious in our first interaction with someone or somewhere?
Something City sheds light on the errors we may make with our preconceptions. Lives that at first seem one dimensional and hollow have an underlaying depth when you began to explore them further.
The stories stray a little. Some are part sci-fi and a couple seem like an urban crime story. And yet, they do all fit into this strangely structured narrative. Bright and Spiteful. Colourfully argumentative.
A prison, a home, a street, a square, an urban space, a rest home, a bedroom, a town and a ‘Something….’
It’s an interesting work, to say the least. Avery Hill continue to stretch and challenge and Ellie Weaver’s Something City is a worthy asset to their catalogue and well worth the entrance fee.
Many thanks for reading.