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Tales from the Inner City

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TALES FROM THE INNER CITY is a collection of incredibly original stories, rich with feeling, strangely moving, almost numinous. And when the reader comes to the artwork, it's like walking into an amazing room, and then throwing open a curtain to see a brilliant scene that makes you understand and appreciate everything you've encountered in a deeper way.


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TALES FROM THE INNER CITY is a collection of incredibly original stories, rich with feeling, strangely moving, almost numinous. And when the reader comes to the artwork, it's like walking into an amazing room, and then throwing open a curtain to see a brilliant scene that makes you understand and appreciate everything you've encountered in a deeper way.

30 review for Tales from the Inner City

  1. 5 out of 5

    T.D. Whittle

    'Your money is meaningless to us,' said the bears. 'You grasp economics with the same clawless paws you use for fumbling justice.' And, once again, the bears showed us. There they were, God help us, the Ledgers of the Earth, written in clouds and glaciers and sediments, tallied in the colours of the sun and the moon as light passed through the millennial sap of every living thing, and we looked upon it all with dread. Ours was not the only fiscal system in the world, it turned out. And worse, our 'Your money is meaningless to us,' said the bears. 'You grasp economics with the same clawless paws you use for fumbling justice.' And, once again, the bears showed us. There they were, God help us, the Ledgers of the Earth, written in clouds and glaciers and sediments, tallied in the colours of the sun and the moon as light passed through the millennial sap of every living thing, and we looked upon it all with dread. Ours was not the only fiscal system in the world, it turned out. And worse, our debt was severe beyond reckoning. And worse than worse, all the capital we had accrued throughout history was a collective figment of the human imagination: every asset, stock and dollar. We owned nothing. The bears asked us to relinquish our hold on all that never belonged to us in the first place. Well, this we simply could not do. So we shot the bears. Never fear, gentle reader, for while we cannot resurrect the bears, the cows will surely avenge their deaths. I have been following Shaun Tan's work for years now, and was exceptionally happy to attend a talk he gave at a Melbourne bookshop around the time The Bird King was published. This one is my favourite of his works so far, though I love quite a few of them, including the aforementioned Bird King. In the Author Notes Tan released about Tales From The Inner City, he opens with this statement: Tales from the Inner City, a sister volume to my anthology Tales from Outer Suburbia (2008), is a collection of 25 illustrated stories about relationships between humans and animals. The basic premise I set for myself was quite simple: think about an animal in a city. Why is it there? How do people react to it? What meaning does it suggest? The first story I wrote concerned crocodiles living across the entire upper floor of a skyscraper, and this triggered a flow of similar daydreams. (See Allen & Unwin Book Publishers link to download Commentary by Shaun Tan.) This type of artistic process fascinates me, which is probably why I love authors such as Murakami, too, who says he writes in the early mornings before he's fully awake because that's when his subconscious is still tossing up interesting ideas (that's my paraphrasing, not what he actually said). Like Murakami, Tan's books are shot through with images that evoke something powerful in us, through pictures and words, yet they are both elusive and ephemeral. We feel constantly that we are on the brink of grasping something important, which we may lose upon wakening. Tan also had this to say in his notes: What I love about speculative fiction is the way it can address commonplace problems in unusual, hypothetical ways. He offers us a series of poetic and thoughtful illustrated vignettes in Tales From The Inner City , with each story spinning off one of his unusual hypotheticals. The results are stunning. Importantly, my animals never really speak, and their animal natures remain inscrutable. They are beings that move in and out of each story as if trying to tell us something about our own successes and failures as a species, the meaning of our dreams, and our true place in the world . . . (See Allen & Unwin Book Publishers link to download Commentary by Shaun Tan.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Renee Godding

    Beautiful in so many ways...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mathew

    An absolutely fascinating collection of what I can only think of describing as post-modern cautionary tales which, through our relationship with animals, explores man's materialistic obsessions and how we have lost our relationship with animals and the natural world. As with all Tan's work, interpretation is left open and meanings will be rich and varied with some stories' messages clearer than others (perhaps). It is fascinating to think that the blend between extended written narrative and glo An absolutely fascinating collection of what I can only think of describing as post-modern cautionary tales which, through our relationship with animals, explores man's materialistic obsessions and how we have lost our relationship with animals and the natural world. As with all Tan's work, interpretation is left open and meanings will be rich and varied with some stories' messages clearer than others (perhaps). It is fascinating to think that the blend between extended written narrative and glorious paintings throughout all come after Tan's last venture which was The Singing Bones (retellings and explorations of Grimm's fairy tales). In this light, you can begin to see where Tan is going with these stories (wholly his own) and the journey he has taken to get to this point. After a comment on social media about the appropriateness of one of the stories (the word 'shit' crops up in one tale) there is question about whether you could share the book with primary children. I am sure my opinion will differ from others but I will say that Tan's open, ambiguous message about how we are losing touch with the natural world and the creatures in it would be a powerful talking point for children that could affect their perceptions of the world. The openness of the tales means that the reader must make their own conclusions and in doing so, readers would claim a greater ownership over the ideas which Tan is trying to share. That is a very good thing indeed.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell Leaning

    Quite dreamlike and surreal. The advanced reader's copy we received at the bookstore had only a handful of stories, however they were unique and intriguing and the illustrations were phenomenal. I look forward to getting a chance to read the full thing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    I remember reading The Arrival a long time ago and I love the artwork, but this book is even better. Again, Tan's artwork is amazing. He has that painterly style I would kill for where his subject can be a gray, dismal city but his brush strokes and dabs and dots of color that shine through so beautifully! His writing is also unique and fun to read, but with sad undertones as each tale has to do with an animal, and it never seems to go well for said animal, and the human(s) doesn't seem to reali I remember reading The Arrival a long time ago and I love the artwork, but this book is even better. Again, Tan's artwork is amazing. He has that painterly style I would kill for where his subject can be a gray, dismal city but his brush strokes and dabs and dots of color that shine through so beautifully! His writing is also unique and fun to read, but with sad undertones as each tale has to do with an animal, and it never seems to go well for said animal, and the human(s) doesn't seem to realize this until it's too late. So if you're looking for an illustrated book of short stories for ages 12+ I would totally recommend this one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Another great book by Shaun Tan! This time focusing on the relationship between humans and animals, with amazing artwork to go along with the short stories. Some of my favorites were: Crocodile, Dog, Cat, Bear, Owl, and Rhinoceros.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Everything Shaun Tan does is amazing. This collection of surreal stories about animals in the city is longer, but, like a picture book, does a lot with the visual impact of a page turn, many of which reveal haunting double-page paintings that end each story with a vision that you may or may not have been picturing. Teens and adults will find much to discuss here. I was reminded at different times of stories by Margo Lanagan and Ray Bradbury, and also the visually mysterious book The Mysteries of Everything Shaun Tan does is amazing. This collection of surreal stories about animals in the city is longer, but, like a picture book, does a lot with the visual impact of a page turn, many of which reveal haunting double-page paintings that end each story with a vision that you may or may not have been picturing. Teens and adults will find much to discuss here. I was reminded at different times of stories by Margo Lanagan and Ray Bradbury, and also the visually mysterious book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg. Don't miss Shaun Tan's work if you want to see the best boundary-pushing of the visual storytelling format in books. "And, once again, the bears showed us. There they were, God help us, the Ledgers of the Earth, written in clouds and glaciers and sediments, tallied in the colours of the sun and the moon as light passed through the millennial sap of every living thing, and we looked upon it all with dread. Ours was not the only fiscal system in the world, it turned out. And worse, our debt was severe beyond reckoning. And worse than worse, all the capital we had accrued throughout history was a collective figment of the human imagination: every asset, stock and dollar. We owned nothing. The bears asked us to relinquish our hold on all that never belonged to us in the first place. Well, this we simply could not do. So we shot the bears."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Honeycutt

    Y'all, I am not a crier (at least not about books), but the stunning art in this book brought me to tears TWICE. If you're an animal lover, prepare yourself for the possibility of emotional onslaught with every page-turn reveal.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tom Evans

    I now know why Shaun Tan is so critically acclaimed, an incredible collection of stories complemented by outstanding illustrations.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is a very significant book. It is dark and often difficult to read, especially the shark, pig and fish chapters. But its message about the interconnectedness between humans and animals is incredibly important. Animals have largely not been respected by humans. They have been abused, tortured, imprisoned and murdered throughout recorded history. And yet, humans still consider themselves the enlightened, superior beings. Tan cleverly exposes the truth. He does this through a beautiful blend o This is a very significant book. It is dark and often difficult to read, especially the shark, pig and fish chapters. But its message about the interconnectedness between humans and animals is incredibly important. Animals have largely not been respected by humans. They have been abused, tortured, imprisoned and murdered throughout recorded history. And yet, humans still consider themselves the enlightened, superior beings. Tan cleverly exposes the truth. He does this through a beautiful blend of prose and poetry- economical and powerful. His trademark illustrations are haunting and add to the poignancy of the text. Of all the chapters I found the pigeon one the most hopeful and that is primarily because it poses the theory that if humans disappeared, nature and animals in particular would prevail. It is not an easy read; however Tan forces us to engage in questions regarding our relationship with the animals we share this world with that need to be addressed and he does so in his inimitable way, with intelligence and grace.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Piña

    Qué libro tan hermoso. Shaun Taun siempre logra transmitir una enorme cantidad de cosas con las imágenes que presenta, sin importar el medio o estilo que utilice. El texto que las acompaña es generalmente breve pero funciona perfectamente. En este libro Shaun Tan nos habla de la relación que tenemos con los animales actualmente. Animales de todo tipo, pero en especial los domésticos y ferales que se encuentran en las ciudades, o los animales de granja y similares. Todo el libro es genial pero la Qué libro tan hermoso. Shaun Taun siempre logra transmitir una enorme cantidad de cosas con las imágenes que presenta, sin importar el medio o estilo que utilice. El texto que las acompaña es generalmente breve pero funciona perfectamente. En este libro Shaun Tan nos habla de la relación que tenemos con los animales actualmente. Animales de todo tipo, pero en especial los domésticos y ferales que se encuentran en las ciudades, o los animales de granja y similares. Todo el libro es genial pero la parte acerca de los perritos me conmovió aún más que el resto.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Westerville

    Don't miss Shaun Tan's work if you want to see the best boundary-pushing of the visual storytelling format in books. - Becky O, Collection Development Reserve a library copy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    If you are a fan of Shaun Tan, then you'll be pleased with this collection. It is a set of stories and drawings around various animals. Shaun takes a different view of things (for example, fish on the cover is actually in the sky) and then tells a story around this different viewpoint.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mikaela Revell

    Shaun Tan has not let me down.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    Wow, what a gorgeous books. Review TK for Kidsreads or Teenreads.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jürgen Peeters

    Mijn recensie van 'Verhalen uit de binnenstad' verscheen op 'Tzum' https://www.tzum.info/2018/09/recensi...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Noelle Kelly

    Beautiful images paired with thought provoking and surprising stories.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anna Jeffries

    This is a really beautiful book between its words and its illustrations. Sweet and surreal and strange and weirdly lovely.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie Florida

    Very unexpected and completely enthralling. Shaun Tan paints pictures with his words as vivid and compelling as those painted with his brush. An absolute delight.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    Just beautiful. One minute, I'm grinning without knowing it, the other I'm bawling with blissful sadness. Is it too late to repair our relationship with the Earth? No. At least, not yet.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Reagan Elly

    100/10, I loved this.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stevo Brock

    This book was a Best of the Best for the month of November 2018, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet. http://forums.delphiforums.com/stevo1...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    Beautiful, profound, heart-breaking. Shaun Tan explores the human relationship with animals from all facets - the warmth we share with a domestic pet to the destruction we've caused for wild species - through his utterly unique and characteristic way of making everything seem pretty while discussing the darkest subjects. I adore how he transcends every literary boundary with his works (while simultaneously being annoyed that they keep getting shelved in the junior section). You're a true gift to Beautiful, profound, heart-breaking. Shaun Tan explores the human relationship with animals from all facets - the warmth we share with a domestic pet to the destruction we've caused for wild species - through his utterly unique and characteristic way of making everything seem pretty while discussing the darkest subjects. I adore how he transcends every literary boundary with his works (while simultaneously being annoyed that they keep getting shelved in the junior section). You're a true gift to the world, Shaun Tan. <3

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kate Samworth

    I absolutely love this book. Buy a copy! You will want to look at it again and again. I love his style, color combinations, and imagination. This is a dark, melancholy, dystopian series of vignettes based on the natural world and read, in my opinion, as elegies. His writing is poetic and animates his images. Each vignette is a fantasy inspired by a different bird, animal, or insect. People have receded into the background for the most part, and the creatures do unusual or unlikely things. The wo I absolutely love this book. Buy a copy! You will want to look at it again and again. I love his style, color combinations, and imagination. This is a dark, melancholy, dystopian series of vignettes based on the natural world and read, in my opinion, as elegies. His writing is poetic and animates his images. Each vignette is a fantasy inspired by a different bird, animal, or insect. People have receded into the background for the most part, and the creatures do unusual or unlikely things. The world he creates reminds me of Stephen Millhauser at his most surreal. I'm also excited to see an illustrated book for adults.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pi

    This book is a real treasure! Goodreads should allow assigning 6 stars from time to time, like once a month or something. Tales from the City gives you the full package. However, unlike previous graphic novels by Shaun Tan, this one focuses more on the writing. One still gets to enjoy the magical illustrations, each an art piece complete in its own right, but this time around they are accompanied by beautiful, 2-3-page stories and poems. Stories from the inner city. All telling us, as well as as This book is a real treasure! Goodreads should allow assigning 6 stars from time to time, like once a month or something. Tales from the City gives you the full package. However, unlike previous graphic novels by Shaun Tan, this one focuses more on the writing. One still gets to enjoy the magical illustrations, each an art piece complete in its own right, but this time around they are accompanied by beautiful, 2-3-page stories and poems. Stories from the inner city. All telling us, as well as asking us, about the place of animals in our urban lives: from frogs appearing in company board rooms, to bears suing humanity in court, to so many more. If you want to pamper your imagination a little, you better read Tales from the City!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    More brilliant work from Tan. Come for the luminous artwork but stay for the fantastical stories that go with them. A beautiful book in all respects.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    A delightful jewel of a book - short stories of animals and our human relationships (or not) with them. Difficult to review as I have never encountered writing and illustrating like this before. A beautiful (and quick) read. The art is exquisite.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Justin Green

    Absolutely awesome

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katy Wineke

    Preview chapters only. Beautiful, can’t wait to see the rest.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book is peculiar, intelligent and beautiful all in one. It consists of a number of different short tales, each from a different perspective and featuring a different animal, and issue, in each. There are absolutely stunning illustrations throughout, sometimes pages at a time - this method of showing rather than telling really worked for me - which accompany each story. Some of the illustrations are eerie, dark and telling while others are really beautiful and full of colour; the illustratio This book is peculiar, intelligent and beautiful all in one. It consists of a number of different short tales, each from a different perspective and featuring a different animal, and issue, in each. There are absolutely stunning illustrations throughout, sometimes pages at a time - this method of showing rather than telling really worked for me - which accompany each story. Some of the illustrations are eerie, dark and telling while others are really beautiful and full of colour; the illustrations are so fantastic that this book could have had no text whatsoever and still I would have understood the message. Some of the stories are particularly dark - for example one story featuring a pig was so troubling that I had to have a break before continuing. The message was loud: we as humans often fall into the habit of shutting the door, closing our eyes and ignoring the problem (particularly when it comes to animals and the meat industry) because if we can't see the suffering, pain or understanding of the animal then did it really happen? There are a handful of stories with similarly dark but important messages at the forefront. However, other stories are cleverly witty and light-hearted (although perhaps this is open to interpretation) - a story about a cat who has many homes really touched me. It was both sad and warm, which is not easy to capture in only a few pages. I'm sure my cat has at least three other houses he lives in! This is a peculiar book in places though. A number of the stories are so abstract or erratic that they can feel odd, silly or just difficult to understand what the key message was for. Equally, I don't think there always needs to be a message behind a story, although I really appreciate what the author has tried to do here and I hope more people listen. I guess that's the thing about this book that really works - if you're open to interpreting the hidden , or not so hidden, meanings and choose to see what the author wants you to appreciate then I think this book has the potential to change opinions and make improvements to, at the very least, fundamental opinions on animals and respecting the world we live in. ARC provided free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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