Ian Jack remembers how Cliff Hanley’s Dancing in the Streets brought him closer to the city he longed to call home”Glasgow is a magnificent city. Why do we hardly ever notice that,” says a character in Lanark, Alasdair Gray’s first and most celebrated novel. “Because nobody imagines living here,” says another character. “Think of Florence, Paris, London, New York. Nobody visiting them for the first time is a stranger because he’s already visited them in paintings, novels, history books and films. But if a city hasn’t been used by an artist, not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively.”This has become a famous exchange in the 30 years since Lanark was published, but I hesitate over some of it. Yes, books, films and pictures preserve and transmit ideas and images of cities – Dickens’s London, Joyce’s Dublin – but it’s hard to believe that without the books, films and pictures their inhabitants would be unable to “live there imaginatively”; as if people are so dull that they need the say-so of a painter or a novelist before they can find their surroundings enlivening. More certainly, I know the statement about nobody imagining living in Glasgow to be plain wrong. Once upon …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books