Yes, there are those among us, thankfully, who are not satisfied with buildings being merely functional; they must express the highest beauty possible as well. At one point during the story, Jonah is taken by his friend to an Art Deco building, where he is overwhelmed by the beauty, and by the care and love that went into the details. That responsibility to make the world as beautiful as we can becomes pretty meaningful by the story's end.
The importance of words, and their truthfulness, is present throughout The City. The Word is important, and points to the Truth. Talk about how that plays out in the story.
Well we have, with English, perhaps the most beautiful language in the world, and one that is suited, with all it complexity, to being able to do wonderful things with. And I try different things with the language in my stories.
In The City, Jonah comes out of musical family. But his grandfather reminds him often that "the word came first"—meaning both the Word of God, and words as truth. And the family is incredibly truthful with themselves and with one another, carefully using the words they mean, and that give meaning.
So through these characters I had a chance to talk about how important language is, and how important it is to be truthful with our language, especially today, when there is a "spin" put on everything.
In this story, the boy is ultimately saved by a surrogate father—Mr. Yoshioka who lives upstairs in the apartment above him.Mr. Yoshioka is the walking embodiment of truth, a man who has likely never told a lie in his life. The novel is really about truth in both forms: Truth as in universal truths, and the truth in our everyday lives. And it is about the loss that can come when we don't honor the truth with one another.
Well thank you, Dean—it has been a pleasure. And thanks for writing The City.