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The Man Who Signed the City


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A series of lovely tributes to a variety of true characters, Keiger's collection entertains and informs

This was a lovely book, fun to read and informative as well. The vignettes were well-written and their subjects well-chosen. I loved the variety - through the book we meet everyone from scientists to artists to athletes, and never knowing what I would find next was a part of the delight. Each tale is told in a voice that partially reflects the subject and partially reflects the author, which makes them individually resonant while still feeling coherent when presented as a whole.

I particularly enjoyed the quirkier tales - the freakshow collector, the muralist, the the unusual musicians - and those about writers. Regardless of the topic though, Keiger managed to bring these individuals to life on the page. The blend of history and backstory and interview tidbits was spot-on for engaging me as a reader. Even when the topic was one I'd not normally imagine myself interested in (swimming, fighting, drumming) I found myself surprisingly entertained. I chalk this up to the writing, which is clear and straightforward yet detailed enough to generate a three-dimensional image of each subject.

I was a bit surprised to see how long ago a number of the pieces were originally written; I enjoyed seeing the brief updates the author included at the end of each, to bring readers up to date on the subjects. All in all this was an interesting, engaging collection of snapshots into lives that I probably would not have otherwise encountered, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Thanks to Reedsy Discovery for my obligation-free review copy of this delightful book!

Reviewed by is mostly focused on book reviews and guest posts on the writing process these days; family life has sucked up much of the time I used to spend writing my own fiction. But one of these days, I'll get back to it...

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About the author

Dale Keiger has been a journalist, essayist, and photographer for more than 45 years, starting as a 19-year-old stringer for The New York Times. Most recently, he was editor of Johns Hopkins Magazine. He lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC. view profile

Published on October 01, 2019

90000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by