My novel is long. Very long. And it starts slowly. But it accumulates; it accumulates like the textures of the city, like rust and flaking paint, like bricks of different shades and blackened bits of chewing gum — all those tones and semi-tones which amass in the peripheries and become a kind of language as one ages.
One Hundred Stories Up is a closely-observed work of literary fiction about four Torontonians trying to carve out space for themselves in a modern city, but it is also a far-fetched and fantastic tale of Toronto’s collision with its own ‘Doppelstadt’ during the blackout of 2003. A cab driver’s efforts to have his foreign medical credentials recognized are disrupted when he finds himself reciting fables about a city which doesn’t exist. Exhausted by his younger brother’s melancholy, a teenage graffiti writer befriends a homeless man who claims to have been cast out of a divine city. An amateur academic working on a manual of urban living finds a poster which describes the day a wild god sat down and created the first city with His-and-Her almighty tongue. Over the course of a year, these four characters will meet – or pass each other unknowingly in the street – as they work to chart the rise and fall of York.
In the ancient city of York, primitive people once lived in an overgrown forest of plumbing and appliances, buildings grew from brick-shaped seeds and cars and trucks were wild beasts which could only be tamed by the bravest men and women. In York, the sun rose from the Dawn Valley and set in the Ember River and High Park was laid out in order to bury the polluted ruins of an evil warlord’s estate.
One Hundred Stories Up is a series of Just So Stories about ice cream trucks, sneakers and suburbs, but it is also a novel about the way in which stories ornament both neighbourhoods and the lives of those who live within them.
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