Monday, March 21, 2005


Perhaps my favorite version of City of Saints & Madmen has just been released by Pan Macmillan in the United Kingdom.

The cover's wonderful and it's highly portable--and potable. I recommend it to anyone who likes 750 pages of interrelated controlled insanity. Or even the opposite of that. I keep a copy of this version on my lap while I watch television and pet it like a cat...or maybe I don't. (You'll never know.)

My favorite description of the book was offered up to me at the Pan Mac launch party for Jeff Ford and me back in April of last year. Claire Bott (sic?), a reviewer, handed me the following poem in the form of a paper airplane:

Some books
are like
yourself up in
a cozy
blanket. Some
books are like
going for a
swim in the
sea when the
wind's up.
Some books
are like eating
an exotic
meal. This
book is like
hanging by
your hands
from a tightrope
above an
height, while
terrible things
creep up from
below and
things drop
down from
above and
your grip
inexorably, to

I couldn't have said it better myself. At the time, I remember being somewhat disconcerted, unsure if this meant she liked the book or not, when it didn't really matter. If someone's willing to write you something like that, it definitely made an impression on that person. If I had it to do over, I would have read it and just looked her in the eyes and said, "You have to trust me enough to let yourself fall." ...

(Evil Monkey: "Wot wot? I see Jonathan Strahan has written a very reasonable post about building a web site." Jeff: "Yes. What about it?" Evil Monkey: "It's very reasonable." Jeff: "Yes. It's reasonable." Evil Monkey: "It doth not account for this, though, and probably not for bits and pieces of this." Jeff: "Oh, come on--it's a great, really reasonable piece about author sites." Evil Monkey: "It sure is. Very reasonable." Jeff: "...but what if I want to explode the fuck out of reasonable and do something cool as shit?" Evil Monkey: "That's reasonable too, dude. But can I tell you something?" Jeff: "What?" Evil Monkey: "Just don't spray when you talk. And if you're going to stand that close, either kiss me or back off." Jeff: "That sounds reasonable.")


At 10:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When does this come out in the States? Another copy would be great, as I am afraid of messing up my gorgeous hardcover copy. (What an author likes to hear!) Surprisingly, I couldn't find any news about it on your website.


At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Mark said...

As someone who has been trying to follow the history of this book and really just wants something definitive, I'm curious as to the difference between this and the UK hardcover (according to, the paperback is 240 pages and the hardback is 496). I love the price of the PB, but not if I'm going to be missing half the book?


At 4:02 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I think both the Ambergris site and VanderMeer sites are good. I think the Ambergris site does it's job very well, which is promote the idea and feel of the book. My only criticisim of the VanderMeer site is that I don't think you should have to run your cursor over the navigation links to find out what they link to. They should just be readable. On the rare occasion I've needed to use as a stepping stone to your journal it's been a nuisance factor. Other than that one quibble, it's cool though.

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I know, Jonathan. (And no one listens to Evil Monkey, which is why he's EM.) I've been debating having the links be visible. I like the seamless nature of having them not be visible, but it can be a pain.

City of Saints & Madmen, the UK edition--in either hardcover, trade paper, or the new mass market, is the definitive version.

Bantam Books will be releasing basically the same version in the US in April 2006.


At 6:03 AM, Blogger Joe Gordon said...

That's excellent - wish I'd thought of it! If you don't mind I'm going to post a link to it on the Forbidden Planet blog - it's one of my picks for new books on the webstore and new catalogue and I enjoy any excuse to give good writing a plug on the blog.

Joe, Edinburgh


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