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Dublin is a city much visited and deeply mythologized In Hidden City Karl Whitney who has been described as 'Dublin's best psychogeographer since James Joyce' explores the places the city's denizens easily overlook Whitney haunts Dublin's edgelands underground rivers and sewers ghost estates and dark corners Whether he is visiting each of the twenty addresses at which James Joyce lived in and around the city or skulking around the Georgian estate that once belonged to Charles Haughey Karl Whitney shows us a Dublin – or a collection of Dublins – that we've never seen before


10 thoughts on “Hidden City

  1. says:

    As a nation thoroughly obsessed with our own history it’s not surprising how many books have been written about our capital city In a market so over saturated with countless volumes seeking to explain and re explain ourselves it is something of a relief to read Hidden City It is a book of great charm and sly simplicity which explores the oft ignored landscapes of Dublin and her surrounding environs Guiding us through underground rivers sewage treatment plants and half completed ghost estates Karl Whitney paints an original and surprising picture of a city as easy to love as it is to hateThe core of the book is in the subtitle “adventures and explorations in Dublin by foot bike bus train and tram” By utilising so many forms of transport Whitney can take us off the beaten track embracing one of the core tenets of psychogeography that when it comes to urban exploration “playfulness” and drifting can bring us a greater awareness and understanding of the cities in which we live This playfulness is most apparent in a chapter where Whitney devises a game of chance with Dublin Bus Over the course of 90 minutes he takes several buses the bus and direction each time being determined by a coin toss in an attempt to end up in an unpredictable and unexplored part of the city The game’s failure and subseuent variations of the rules is hilarious and illuminating – even when we have nowhere to go the capacity of public transport to frustrate is astoundingOther chapters are eually delightful An attempt to visit all twenty houses occupied by James Joyce in one day and in chronological order was a particular favourite Or a guided tour along the underground rivers flowing beneath the Liberties which sounds both terrifying and appealing in eual measure It’s not all frivolous traipsing though In one moving segment he retraces the final steps of Nigerian teenager Toyosi Shitta Bey who was stabbed to death in 2010 Political corruption crime economic collapse poorly planned infrastructure immigration and failed property developments are all discussed with clarity and a refreshingly straight forward style How all these things feed into Dublin’s landscape real and imaginary is Hidden City’s great triumph Here is a book which does not romanticize Dublin but shows what it really is – a maddening and brilliant place full of contradictions a sprawl of divides begging for further explorationThis review originally appeared on The Bloomfield Review


  2. says:

    A bit all over the place couldn't decide if it wanted to be a rant about cowboy property developers and the resultant urban blight or a uirky travel guide touring power plants airports bus routes etc Did a mediocre job of both Disappointed but did learn a few interesting things which saved it from a one star


  3. says:

    An original take on Dublin that will fill in a lot of gaps for people who feel they know the city well but have stopped exploring it A lot of the time we are just trekking around in the company of the writer who sets himself mini uests and is unflappably earnest I enjoyed his company so that was fine Sometimes the uests are a little absurd and his style is understated but the pieces all come together very well Excellent reportage on the failings of the building industry in particular with a haunting description of the fallout from Priory Hall Very well researched and an original and effective way of delivering social commentary


  4. says:

    Something of a curate's egg A book that I don't feel delivers on its impression of being the hidden Dublin It is excellent and excoriating when writing about the corruption of Fianna Fail or the victims of the housing boom However it is also full of chapters about playing a game with a bus ticket or going down the sewers that just seemed needlessly whimsical


  5. says:

    I just couldn't decide do I like this or not so I give it 3 stras At some point I totally lost interest and then some parts I hardly could put it away There were some really interesting points of view for this city I really like I did recommend it for my local friend but I would not recommend it for someone who isn't familiar with the city


  6. says:

    More a collection of stories articles on the behind the scenes of Dublin Some knowledge of the city and it's geography is probably beneficial I found some chapters full of researched details like the sewers chapter and others were just games like the bus chapter I preferred the detail and was perhaps hoping to understand about Dublin's bus routes


  7. says:

    Nice easy read I gained from it because I've been to Dublin a few times lately I expect that it will be a little less valuable for a reader that do not have the basic geographic orientation in the city


  8. says:

    I spent part of the time reading this in Dublin itself and I love the city My one big suggestion is that the author add a map to the beginning of each chapter to outline his route For those of us not bred in the city It was very difficult to get our bearings


  9. says:

    A uirky exploration of the city particularly the underbelly Whitney has a witty touch with a sometimes comical paranoia thrown in Tracing his own idiosyncratic paths he delineates mental maps of the sewer system the hidden rivers and the peregrinations of James Joyce and his family Perhaps the addition of actual maps might have been a good idea His walk around the imagined perimeter of Tallaght was enjoyable but I know the area and at times such as his crazy bus game I was a bit disorientated Also despite his wit and the uniueness of his ideas there was a jaundiced view of Dublin which became a bit wearisome towards the end You can only spend so long looking down; a certain amount of light can help illuminate the shade There's a strange disengagement from the life of the city; the cafes bars parks and passersby Dublin is not nearly so post apocalyptic as painted here Still it's a uniue entertaining and informative read It added to my knowledge and made me want to add some


  10. says:

    Cool read for anyone curious about cities and their hidden secrets Definitely lots of ideas for cute weekend walks for close to no cost