With divinatory attention, Darran Anderson gives voice to the testimony of objects and geographies, chronicling the passage of individual memory as it turns into a community's archive and sustaining myth.
Darran Anderson is an Irish essayist, journalist, and memoirist. Over the past decade, he has written on the intersections of culture, politics, urbanism, and technology for a wide variety of publications, including The Atlantic, frieze magazine, The Guardian, and the Times Literary Supplement. His first book, Imaginary Cities: A Tour of Dream Cities, Nightmare Cities, and Everywhere in Between (2015), is a hugely ambitious and dazzlingly omnivorous analysis of real and imagined cities throughout history. Chapter by chapter, in the style of Italo Calvino, Anderson takes us on an exhilarating tour of urban environments from the fantastical to the dystopian, delving into historical archives, travelogues, mythology, theme parks, science fiction, and video games. Inventory (2020), his second book and a finalist for the PEN Ackerley Award (2021), tells the story of Anderson’s working-class Catholic childhood in Derry, Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles. Following Jorge Luis Borges and Georges Perec, Anderson investigates the past—his own, his family’s, and his city’s—through a series of vignettes, each centered on an object. A long-wave radio, a cassette tape, a floppy disk, a toy soldier: these objects, and Anderson’s sharply controlled examination of them, offer a meditation on the gifts and terrors of temporal experience. For Anderson, surviving the past, and surviving long enough to get a perspective on one’s place in it, is itself a triumph. “We’re actually beneath the great staggering scrap-pile of history,” he writes, “and we’re scrambling to get out.” Born in Derry, he now lives in London.
My initial response was 'Holy ****! Is this real?' or, to put it more diplomatically, 'I'm surprised, grateful, and slightly dazed at this very welcome and generous news.'DARRAN ANDERSON