Imagine a City
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**A Financial Times Best Summer Book of 2022**
‘A journey around both the author’s mind and the planet’s great cities that leaves us energised, open to new experiences and ready to return more hopefully to our lives’ ALAIN DE BOTTON
‘A moving account of personal unbelonging’ THE TIMES
‘Vanhoenacker… has a near-bottomless appetite for fresh sights and guidebook curiosities… Intimate and thoughtful’ PICO IYER, AIR MAIL
Growing up in his small hometown, Mark Vanhoenacker spun the illuminated globe in his bedroom and dreamt of elsewhere – of distant, real cities, and a perfect metropolis that existed only in his imagination. These places were sources of endless fascination and escape: streets unspooled, towers shone, and anonymous crowds bustled in cities where Mark could be anyone – perhaps even himself.
Now, as a commercial airline pilot, Mark has spent nearly two decades crossing the skies of our planet, touching down in the cities he imagined as a child. He experiences these metropolises in short layover visits that repeat month after month and year after year, giving him a unique perspective on the places that form our urban world.
Interweaving travelogue with memoir, Mark celebrates the cities he has come to know and love through the lens of the hometown his heart has never left. Exploring the emblematic facets of each city’s identity – the sweeping roads of Los Angeles, the old gates of Jeddah, the intricate, dream-inspired plan of Brasilia – he shows us with warmth and fresh eyes the extraordinary places that billions of us call home.
‘A love letter to the cities he’s returned to again and again… Vanhoenacker captivates when describing the silent beauty of a world glimpsed from above’ Washington Post
‘Eloquent… A love song to cities the world over’ Wall Street Journal
‘Evocative… Lyrical… At the keyboard, Vanhoenacker has danced, and on his pages there is tumbling mirth indeed’ Boston Globe
Mark Vanhoenacker is a beautiful, lyrical writer who uses his experience as a pilot to bring us constantly in touch with the transcendent and the other-worldly -- Alain de Botton A enriching memoir of how a sensitive, introverted boy's yearning for escape and acceptance found its fulfilment in the life of an airline pilot... A touching survey of human dreams and endeavours and a hymn to the quiet pleasures of returning, in the flesh or in memory, to the intimate geography of one's hometown -- Patrick Gale Refreshingly personal and moving... This absorbing modern twist on the age-old story of flying the nest, yet yearning for home, will transport you around the globe and back again without leaving your seat -- Mark Ovenden, author of AIRLINE MAPS and LONDON UNDERGROUND BY DESIGN An utterly remarkable and original travel book. Like Jan Morris and Pico Iyer, Vanhoenacker weaves memoir and travelogue, using his unusual perch as a pilot to take us on an incredible journey to dozens of cities around the world. Like Italo Calvino, he somehow weaves it all into one, a painfully beautiful cubist city of memory and dreams that rises out of his warm and lyrical prose -- Andrew Blum, author of TUBES and THE WEATHER MACHINE A tour de force of descriptive power and honesty; I can think of no other book like this one -- Tom Zoellner, winner of the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
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