What if the world was an infinite New York street, buildings on either side, the Tracks on one side, and the River on the other? Under the street roars the Subway, and overhead, the Yardbulls and the Fisherwives hover, waiting to carry the dead off to The Wrong Side of The Tracks and The Other Side of The River. This is Dickens meets Dick, with a slap or two of Runyon and Farmer. And, looking again at the title, this is a book that is exactly what it says on the cover: a year in the life of an inhabitant of this unlikeliest of worlds. It's a story of life, love, death and writing science fiction. And a little journey down the river.
di Filippo is an excellent writer, with much to say about how we live. We can share the lives of his characters, and learn something about who we live, in our world circumscribed by society's tramlines and institutionalised visions of Heaven and Hell. The lead character, Diego Patchen, is an everyman, living an ordinary life in an extraordinary place. And, di Filippo seems to ask, aren't we like him, living our ordinary lives in our extraordinary places? The conflict between the downriver section of the city and the visitors from Patchen's section point out how insular we are, when we could be sharing in a wider world. A Year In The Linear City is a fantasy doing what it should do, telling us about our world and our lives.
A short read, but a worth introduction to di Philippo's writings.