Rossdavidh's Reviews > Tales from the Inner City

Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan
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it was amazing
bookshelves: black

The first book by Shaun Tan that I read, was "The Arrival", which was pictures without words (although it did have a great story, beautifully told). This book, is roughly equal parts pictures and words, each short story a pairing of the two. The Table of Contents is a two-page spread of silhouettes, each one a different animal species, and they are arranged on the page in no particular order. Yet, if I find myself wanting to reread, say, the one where the boardmembers of the corporation are turned into frogs, it is elegantly easy to find the frog silhouette, and see inside it the number "129", and turn to it and see the first sentence, "One afternoon the members of the board all turned into frogs." Leave it to Shaun Tan to re-invent how a Table of Contents can work, and do it well.

The crocodiles who live on the 87th floor, the giant yak that the factory workers ride home from work, the owls that sit at your bedside in the hospital and stare at you until you are well again, the giant snails that scandalized a city by having sexual intercourse in public, they are all there, each with their own story, and each with their own picture.

The wonder of it is that the pictures are complete in themselves, quietly satisfying to look at and wonder about even if there were no story given to us, and so are the texts. Even with no picture, they would be graceful and moving. That they each work separately, and then work together as well, is an amazing feat. Few people can write well, and few people can paint well, and somehow Shaun Tan has become a master at both.

While reading it the first time, I could not help but share a few of them with my wife and daughter, reading them aloud and then holding up the picture to look at. Once done, I put it by my bedside and re-read, and re-gazed at, one of them every night for some time.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
December 27, 2018 – Shelved
December 27, 2018 – Shelved as: black

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