How do we imagine our cities and our lives? How do we remember them? How are we shaped by the cities where we live? How do we shape the places where we live?
Playing on the double meaning of inner, editor Drusilla Modjeska draws together essays and stories, poems and remembrances, anecdotes and fragments by city-dwelling women. With five framing 'connections' by urban geographer Sophie Watson, Inner Cities offers a rich tapestry of women's urban experience.
A schoolgirl catches the 389 and watches the old women on the bus; young mothers in the 1950s and 60s live in the spaces betweeen politics and children; the lives of others are framed by suburban nature strips and inner city footpaths, or the corner house, the corner shop, the kitchen of an Italian restaurant. There are dreams inspired by ships on the harbour or a glimpse of country life. And there are the cultural distances travelled betweeen city and country, Australia and the world.
" Women are practised on the peripheries. Our memories, our stories, like the ways we live, are formed in movement between inner and outer, past and future, centre and margin, between the physical environment and the social world. We shape our cities, and re-shape them from the edge ... just as our cities shape us."
Diane Halas Routt
The imagery of patchwork in Sophie Watson's thematic introduction to the four parts of the book applies as well to its structure and texture as to the women's experience of changing environments. Each patch represents a woman, her experience, her creative effort. The complete patchwork suggests a network of women whose contributions create a community. The patchwork structure encourages responsive reading - reading as quilting and sleeping - bringing the reader into 'the city of women' to compare her experiences, to dwell in her own memories as well as theirs. Finally a new place, an inner city, is created in which each reader may meet herself coming around the corner.
Sydney Morning Herald
Often moving and thought provoking, these pieces are also about growing up and growing away, old ties and new allegiances. Send it to your expatriate female friends, or even better bully some men into reading it.