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"Neither is a dictionary a bad book to read. There is no cant in it, no excess of explanation, and it is full of suggestions, the raw material of possible poems and histories."


— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Light in the tunnel

London Under

Title: London Under
By: Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd's "votive offering to the gods who lie beneath London" is also an artifice -- or should that be an edifice? -- of eccentric pedagogy. Like the ever-so-slightly unsettling vicars of period British mysteries whose obsessively detailed leaflets are strewn about churchyards where murder lurks, Ackroyd's no man to shun a datum, however mean. In his deft hands, coal becomes diamonds; the weight of detail upon detail yields insight. "London is built upon darkness," he writes. Perhaps so. But this book shines. It's also beautifully designed and produced, a perfect gift for the wild-eyed vicar on your list. NB: For synergy, couple this with Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May mystery series, which partakes of the same subterranean wellspring.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction

Posted by curious on Feb. 13, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
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