Eric Barnes – The City Where We Once Lived Review

Genre: Dystopian
Length: 244 Pages
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Release date: April 3, 2018
In a near future where climate change has severely affected weather and agriculture, the North End of an unnamed city has long been abandoned in favor of the neighboring South End. Aside from the scavengers steadily stripping the empty city to its bones, only a few thousand people remain, content to live quietly among the crumbling metropolis. Many, like the narrator, are there to try to escape the demons of their past. He spends his time observing and recording the decay around him, attempting to bury memories of what he has lost.

But it eventually becomes clear that things are unraveling elsewhere as well, as strangers, violent and desperate alike, begin to appear in the North End, spreading word of social and political deterioration in the South End and beyond. Faced with a growing disruption to his isolated life, the narrator discovers within himself a surprising need to resist losing the home he has created in this empty place. He and the rest of the citizens of the North End must choose whether to face outsiders as invaders or welcome them as neighbors.

The City Where We Once Lived is a haunting novel of the near future that combines a prescient look at how climate change and industrial flight will shape our world with a deeply personal story of one man running from his past. With glowing prose, Eric Barnes brings into sharp focus questions of how we come to call a place home and what is our capacity for violence when that home becomes threatened.

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review

A nameless man alone in an unnamed city lives in what can only be described as the end of everything. It’s his own personal horror as he tries to forget his past and navigate his daily existence. This was an interesting look at how cities are in a state of constant flux, how people are always pushing to be in a better neighborhood, have better things, and abandoning the older areas. Society does what it does best and abandoned everything in the North End to migrate to the South End to seek out greener pastures

The landscape described in The City Where We Once Lived is haunting. It’s easy to see the ‘North End’ in your mind’s eye as Eric Barnes set us up a world that is ruined and paints a stark and bleak future that could happen. There are also hints of environmental deterioration that show the way society treats the planet. The book was told from the first-person perspective of this nameless man. Most of the story in told in the from of observations and internal dialogue. The City Where We Once Lived had a similar style to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was solitary in nature and had minimal interactions for a majority of the book.

Link to purchase The City Where We Once Lived

Eric Barnes, Biography-

Eric Barnes of is the author of the novels The City Where we Once lived (Arcade Publishing, March 2018), Shimmer, (an IndieNext Pick from Unbridled Books), and Something Pretty, Something Beautiful (Outpost19). He has published more than 40 short stories in journals such as Prairie Schooner, The Literary Review and Best American Mystery Stories.


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