Tales from the Inner City is a powerful reflection on the nature of existence and the urban relationship we have with the animals within our human world. From the dog to the crocodile; from the tiger to the frog, world renowned artist Shaun Tan explores the perennial love and destruction we feel and inflict on our fellow creatures.
Shaun Tan always creates enjoyable and thought-provoking work, and in Tales from the Inner City he explores nature, our co-existence – or not – with animals and how our way of life effects the natural environment around us.
This heavy, lavish hardback tome of 225 glossy pages, is full of atmospheric illustrations, each set over two pages which accompany the numerous short stories, and sharply contrast the differences in two opposing worlds and have an air of the dreamlike about them.
The stories themselves are a mixed bag in terms of their messages, some are obvious, but due to the trademark whimsy and surreal of Tan’s style, others fail as the point being made is sometimes too veiled. Despite this, I find all them enjoyable and full of depth.
My stand out stories, of the twenty-five, are the passing wonder of butterflies, the random chance of frog, our evolving companionship with dogs, the ethereal majesty of the noble horse, the visual horror of Shark. Each is varied in tone and there is something in here for everyone to enjoy, although this isn’t really one for kids.
Reading this straight through, I never felt tempted to rush. Its great to savour the work despite the inevitability of finishing the book in a short amount of time. I did endure the occasional preachy writing, but that is probably an inevitable result in a book of this type. All in all, a good read but not one of the author’s best.
“The chatter in our heads fell silent, the endless ticker tape of voice-over narrative, always prying things apart from cause and effect, sign and symbol, some kind of useful meaning or value or portent – it all just stopped, and the butterflies came to us.”