Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #59: The 32 Stops by Danny Dorling

Number of pages: 165

"At the start of the journey, life expectancy falls by two months a minute", writer Danny Dorling states near to the start of his book, referring to the districts that you will pass through if you are travelling west on London's Central line from its western terminus.

This book revolves entirely around demographic and statistical information for areas of London located on the Central Line, talking at length about life expectancy, number of children living in poverty and average exam results. However, instead of just being in the form of an essay, the information is presented as a series of Vignettes about (evidently fictional) people living in varying conditions across London.

At first, I wasn't too impressed; each of the stories that featured in the book seemed to be about families arguing about things that I thought no one in real life would spend much time talking about, but after a while I started to enjoy the vivid way that life across London was portrayed, and how one group of residents can be rich and living in luxury, while people close by are living almost in squalor. The narrative style put me in mind of Michael Moorcock's Mother London, except set in modern times.

Politics are a strong influence on the entire book, and at some point it feels at though the writer is getting up on his soapbox, but throughout you can tell that a lot of research has been carried out, and there is an almost obsessive attention to detail regarding statistics.

Overall, I thought this was an okay book; it's probably not something that a lot of people would read for pleasure though.

Next day: Cathedral of Lies (John Pye)
Tags: academic, book review, british, politics, realism

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