An Essay

Brian Lennon

An innovative and poetic exploration of how one comes to know place


"City creates and animates its own unique zone of attention. This is the true biography of artistic sensibility, the subtly receptive medium that registers the world in carefully graded exposures, which are then arranged into the first anticipations of larger meaning."
—Sven Birkerts

"Lennon gives a pleasant voice to this emerging genre."

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How do we come to know a place, and in seeking to know it do we make it foreign from ourselves? Do we tackle it from other perspectives—the excavator, the traveler, the observant witness? Can we know a place without the blur of our identity, or does the attempt to extricate ourselves from the external lead only deeper? Brian Lennon seeks such knowledge in this rare and revolutionary work that blends poetry with narrative, ethnography with autobiography, and philosophy with literature. City: An Essay begins and ends with meditations on place, the first an unusual and intriguing excavation of the underground depths and history of New York City and the conclusion a travelogue of Italy that reads like snapshots. But place comes to reside somewhere within the landscape of the imagination.

Though classified as creative nonfiction, City is an open genre piece that reads with the rhythm and beauty of poetry. Despite its sometimes philosophical core, occasionally pausing to ponder Kierkegaardian dilemmas, it maintains linguistic grace and self-reflexivity. City is a unique and unmatched experimental work by an emerging and sophisticated writer who is paving exciting new aesthetic and theoretical roads.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction

Page count: 112 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.25


List price: $19.95

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Brian Lennon is an assistant professor of English and comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of In Babel's Shadow: Multilingual Literatures, Monolingual States.