As I set out from the city's southern end, the sandstone walls beneath the Central railway line still held the day's heat...I passed a row of old terraces where feral banana trees had colonised the tiny courtyards behind them, and walked on, past the smell of Thai food, up dirty William Street...The moon rose from the invisible harbour into a sky of such deep royal blue it was almost hard to believe in. The street smelled of low tied. For all its beauty, the city could return in an instant to pulp. And that thought was strangely cheering.
Sydney has always been the sexiest and brashest of our cities, but perhaps the most misunderstood. In this new edition of Sydney - part of the classic City Series - Delia Falconer conjures up its sandstone, humidity and jacarandas, its fireworks, glitz and magic. But she discards lazy stereotypes to reveal a complex city: beautiful, violent, half-wild, and at times deeply spiritual.
Beginning with her childhood in a decaying '70s Sydney, caught between a faded Art Deco age and mega development, Falconer intertwines her own stories with the wellsprings of the city's history and its literary past. Melancholic, moving and funny - Sydney is about its people: mad clergymen, amateur astronomers, Indigenous weather experts, crimes and victims, photographers and artists, thinkers and dreamers. Falconer's Sydney is intensely atmospheric and seductive.
Now with a new Afterword in which Falconer ponders the city's twenty-first century transformations - might it have become a softer, nicer place? Will it be able to withstand the real presence of climate change? - and her own.