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May 24 , 2009

The Ruins of My Daughter's Cities: An Imaginary Travelogue


Two well-loved books by Italo Calvino are “Invisible Cities” and “Cosmicomics”. In the former, Marco Polo regales Kublai Khan with descriptions, both profound and fanciful, of imagined cities that lie within the emperor’s vast domain. In the latter, Calvino develops short stories based on absurdly literal interpretations and explanations of scientific theories, past and present. “The Ruins of My Daughter’s Cities” is an amalgamation of both techniques. Inside the reader will find descriptions of cities that exist only in the imagination, created solely as a means of providing an explanation for the convoluted psychology of the relationship between a father and daughter.

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The author asks that the following disclaimer be included at the beginning of the description of Symptoms of the Lunatic.Symptoms of the Lunatic is a novel written about a lunatic in the manner of a lunatic. Readers possessed of a sane mind may find that the writing of a lunatic contains what appears to them to be circuitous arguments of…

The description of each city is preceded by a short recounting of an episode of the daughter’s behavior that proves utterly outside the father’s ability to comprehend. Together, father and daughter then visit an imaginary city related to this event, which helps the father better understand the behavior. The destinations include such cities as the City of Noodles, the City of Drills, the City of Lost, Younger Brothers, the City of Wild and Meaningless Gesticulation and, let us not forget, the capital City of Ambiguous Anxieties.

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