The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

April 4, 2017
by Dan
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The Last London

The London Review of Books has a brilliant, sprawling, melancholy essay by author and psychogeographer Iain Sinclair titled ‘The Last London’. It’s difficult to know what to quote from the essay as it touches on so many interesting, diverse things, but this … Continue reading

October 26, 2016
by Dan
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Darran Anderson on Imaginary Cities and Books as Maps

Author Darran Anderson discusses his book Imaginary Cities with Rhys Tranter: [M]y intention was to write something that isn’t self-contained; a book that somehow spills out of its pages and into the world… I wanted to send people out looking for … Continue reading

February 18, 2016
by Dan
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Robert Caro on New York

At The Gothamist, Christopher Robbins talks to writer Robert Caro about New York and The Power Broker, his classic Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of city planner Robert Moses: Moses had done something no one else had ever done. Everyone thought power comes from being … Continue reading

November 19, 2013
by Dan
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Robert Macfarlane: Glimpsing Gormenghast

In the latest issue of Intelligent Life, Robert Macfarlane, author of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot and co-author of Holloway, considers Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast: Gormenghast is a vast “labyrinth of stone”, in Peake’s phrase—except that it has no centre, for there … Continue reading

August 22, 2012
by Dan
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Q & A with P. D. Smith

City A Guidebook for the Urban Age is the fascinating new book by British writer and reviewer by Peter D. Smith. Published by Bloomsbury, it is a wonderfully meandering collection of essays on cultural history of the world’s cities and an exploration of … Continue reading

August 13, 2012
by Dan
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Jane Jacobs on Writers & Company

In an archive interview from 2002 (rebroadcast this weekend), CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel talks to the late Jane Jacobs, author of Death and Life of Great American Cities, at her home in Toronto: CBC RADIO WRITERS & CO: Jane Jacobs … Continue reading

June 5, 2012
by Dan
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Montreal in the 60’s

Montreal in the 60’s is a short film by assembled by Jim Dayshine from archival images from the National Film Board of Canada. I posted this at the other place earlier today, but I’m re-posting it here because it is … Continue reading

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