Imagine a City: A Pilot Sees the World by Mark Vanhoenacker

June 2022

Mark Vanhoenacker has a really lyrical, evocative way of writing. I adored Skyfaring, and some of the magic of that book can be found here as well. There’s a long section in the middle about Kuwait, and it was so immersive and fascinating that I was ready to hop on a plane to see Kuwait City for myself (deadly heat and all). Likewise, the chapter about Cape Town and the gorgeous passages about the author’s obsession with the color blue (one I share to a certain extent) transported me and sparked an intense Fernweh - even though I was actually already far from home when I read them. The travel bug can apparently hit even you’re already traveling.

This book is much more of a personal memoir than his previous one, and he also writes with gentle affection about his hometown of Pittsfield and all the beauties and difficulties of growing up there. My problem is that I’m very susceptible to melancholy, so these parts made me quite pensive and often straight-up sad. I wasn’t entirely emotionally prepared for this, so I didn’t totally enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. This is not at all a criticism of the book itself, though, which is lovely. I will continue to read anything that Mark Vanhoenacker writes.

Further reading…