Jlawrence's Reviews > Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas

Infinite City by Rebecca Solnit
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's review
Jan 27, 2011

really liked it
Read from January 27 to March 26, 2011

Solnit's book illustrates how there are an infinite number of ways of viewing any city's current state and its history (eg personal history of its inhabitants, economic forces, political movements, cultural delights and nadirs, ecosystems, etc etc). The book is a collection of original, full-color maps of San Francisco or the Bay Area highlighting such specifics, each map accompanied by a short essay (many by Solnit with a handful of other contributors). The maps are excellently done, and most of the subjects fascinating.

Two of my favorites -- a map ("Right Wing of the Dove") showing, despite the Bay Area's leftist reputation, the surprising collection of conservative powerhouses and right-leaning corporate HQs that call this area home -- another ("Cinema City") detailing all the SF locations used in Hitchcock's Vertigo combined with SF scenes from the life of Eadweard Muybridge, whose experiments in high-speed photography lead to the creation of motion pictures, and whose own life had its own Hitchcockian twist when he tracked down and murdered the man who was having an affair with his wife.

As one would expect, a good number of the map/essays document peoples and places now gone from SF. Some of the essays are too dry or too hodge-podge, but this is mostly a excellent, illuminating read.

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