Tales from the Inner City

Tales from the Inner City

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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Title:Tales from the Inner City
Author:Shaun Tan
Rating:

Tales from the Inner City Reviews

  • T.D. Whittle

    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

    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

    , he opens with this statement:

    (See Allen & Unwin Book Publishers link to download

    .)

    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:

    He offers us a series of poetic and thoughtful illustrated vignettes in

    , with each story spinning off one of his unusual hypotheticals. The results are stunning.

    (See Allen & Unwin Book Publishers link to download

    .)

  • 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."

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Renee Godding

    Beautiful in so many ways...

  • Whispering Stories

    Book Reviewed by Stacey on

    Tales from the Inner City is a strange, yet an eye-opening book about co-existing with animals and what they can teach us about ourselves. It is a book for older children, teenagers, and even adults.

    With twenty-five stories about animals, mixed in with poems and some gorgeous artwork, this book has something for everyone. Most of the stories are quite dark and yet very intelligently written.

    Shaun Tan has used his stories about animals to reflec

    Book Reviewed by Stacey on

    Tales from the Inner City is a strange, yet an eye-opening book about co-existing with animals and what they can teach us about ourselves. It is a book for older children, teenagers, and even adults.

    With twenty-five stories about animals, mixed in with poems and some gorgeous artwork, this book has something for everyone. Most of the stories are quite dark and yet very intelligently written.

    Shaun Tan has used his stories about animals to reflect the actions, mannerisms, and emotions of us humans. By understanding the essence of the stories you can take a lot of information away about human behaviour and yourself too. It is kind of like a weird self-help book if you look deeper at the stories, or you can just enjoy them and not look for any hidden meanings, the choice is yours.

    This is a book to be treasured and delve into now and again. It would make a great coffee table book, one to get people talking. It may even help those going through a change in their lives – especially teenagers to understand the world around them.

  • Danielle

    A mesmerizing collection of stories and corresponding artwork from Shaun Tan that is also kind of uncategorizable as some of his work tends to be. Each entry focuses on one species of animal in a world that feels like a futuristic, more bizarre version of our own. Nature still exists, but it's not the nature we know now, and animals are different—more populous or less, stranger, magical, changed, and directly in our day to day lives, perhaps because we've destroyed the places they used to live.

    A mesmerizing collection of stories and corresponding artwork from Shaun Tan that is also kind of uncategorizable as some of his work tends to be. Each entry focuses on one species of animal in a world that feels like a futuristic, more bizarre version of our own. Nature still exists, but it's not the nature we know now, and animals are different—more populous or less, stranger, magical, changed, and directly in our day to day lives, perhaps because we've destroyed the places they used to live. Some connect, some suddenly appear, some take revenge, some are terribly, hopelessly wronged. There are humans in the stories as well, grappling with what we've done and what we can't take back and how to live.

    Tan's surreal, beautiful art is always captivating.

    Some of my favorite selections: dog, horse, rhino, frog, orca, tiger, and more.

    "The bears asked us to relinquish our hold on all that never belonged to us in the first place."

    "...I need you as much as you need me. And where could we live if not in the bottomless den of each other's shadow?"

    "Only now, too late, do we remember quietly the things that bind all brothers and sisters in sediment, each husk and bone much the same carbonate as any other: shark, bear, crocodile, owl, pig, lungfish, moonfish, parrot, pigeon, butterfly, bee, tiger, dog, frog, snail, cat, sheep, horse, yak, orca, eagle, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, fox...at lease we gave them our most beautiful words."

  • Marianne

    “Where money gathers, so do pigeons. They flock to great financial centers like so many accountants in smart grey waistcoats and glittering collars, bright-eyed, strutting, nodding, darting purposefully between the fiscal-black heels of merchant bankers, bartering every walking minute for a tidy profit.”

    Tales from the Inner City is a picture book for adults by award-winning Australian illustrator and author, Shaun Tan. What a wonderful book! Shaun Tan is so talented. There are twenty-five tales,

    “Where money gathers, so do pigeons. They flock to great financial centers like so many accountants in smart grey waistcoats and glittering collars, bright-eyed, strutting, nodding, darting purposefully between the fiscal-black heels of merchant bankers, bartering every walking minute for a tidy profit.”

    Tales from the Inner City is a picture book for adults by award-winning Australian illustrator and author, Shaun Tan. What a wonderful book! Shaun Tan is so talented. There are twenty-five tales, the beginning of each denoted by the black silhouette of a creature: perhaps an animal, bird, fish or insect. This is followed by text, sometimes as prose, sometimes as verse. Some stories are very short, others up to thirty-six pages long. Mostly at the end, but sometimes throughout the story, colour illustrations depict some part of the tale.

    Those illustrations, wow! They are exquisite, evocative, luminous. The stories that accompany them vary: some are very sad; some are delightfully funny; some are sweet; some are portentous; some are insightful; and some perfectly illustrate the human race’s blindness to what is. Most are wise and some are clever, and Tan’s prose is often just as evocative as his art: “How much do I love our family? This much. When nothing turns out to be what we hoped, we still hope it turns out to be something. We are never the ones to say that life is disappointing. We are always too busy doing stuff., even if we have no idea why.”

    All this elegance on quality glossy paper contained within a superb hardcover binding. The cover story (Moonfish) is likely to be a favourite, both for the story and the illustration, but the frogs, the dog, the owl, the cat, the bears and the butterflies are exceptional among a book full of tales bound to appeal to many readers. What will this brilliant man come up with next? An utterly beautiful book!

  • Callum McLaughlin

    I love surrealism when it comes to art, but really struggle with it when it comes to prose, which often makes reading Shaun Tan's books a tale of two halves for me.

    Conceptually, I thought this was excellent; 25 short stories, each one focussed on a different animal, commenting on the beauty, brutality, and complexity that make up man's relationship with nature. Each one is accompanied by at least one stunning double-page illustration.

    Whilst plot-wise, most of the stories did little for me, I a

    I love surrealism when it comes to art, but really struggle with it when it comes to prose, which often makes reading Shaun Tan's books a tale of two halves for me.

    Conceptually, I thought this was excellent; 25 short stories, each one focussed on a different animal, commenting on the beauty, brutality, and complexity that make up man's relationship with nature. Each one is accompanied by at least one stunning double-page illustration.

    Whilst plot-wise, most of the stories did little for me, I always admired what the author was saying thematically, and I could lose myself in the artwork time and time again. Indeed, looking at Tan's paintings is like stepping inside a dream world; a hypnotically rich and rewarding experience.

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