Please download the map here
But I Know This City! is an intimate performance by one hundred people to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of a radical and experimental novel set in Nottingham. This unique free event will take place over one day in twenty five locations across the city centre.
The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson, published in 1969, is best known as the ‘book in a box’. It is a deeply moving and evocative work with each of its twenty seven chapters being separately bound and only ‘First’ and ‘Last’ being titled. The other 25 chapters can be shuffled and read in any order. In the same way, this event allows you to create your own journey through the novel and through the city, where readers are waiting to share their chapters with you.
‘First’ and ‘Last’ are timetabled and happen throughout the day in The Lounge at Broadway. We recommend that you start and end here, although this is certainly not essential. Once you have listened to ‘First’ you can visit the other venues at any time and in any order (do not follow the numbers!) where you will encounter up to 25 chapters before returning to hear ‘Last’. You do not have to visit and hear all of the other chapters, although it will deepen your experience of this remarkable novel. Each chapter will be read to you whenever you arrive and find Bryan (B.S. Johnson).
In most locations Bryan will be easy to find; in others you may have to search a little although we will make your search as easy as possible. Bryan may be male or female, old or young, tall or short. All you have to do is approach Bryan, sit down on the chair opposite (unless you are sitting next to Bryan in a car, or on a church pew, or standing by a bookshelf, or sitting on a sofa by a roaring fire) and the reading will begin.
If you arrive and Bryan is reading to another person you may either accompany the listener or wait until that reading is completed. No chapter will last more than ten minutes. Many are a lot shorter than this. If you do arrive when a reading of a longer chapter is in progress then Bryan will try to let you know how far into the chapter he/she is.
You should be able to navigate your way around the whole novel in around four to five hours, with the reading lasting around two hours. Alternatively you may just want to dip into one or more of the chapters and decide whether or not to progress further (we think you will). In some of the spaces we will have control of everything that happens around Bryan, in others the outside world may intrude in unexpected and unforeseen ways. Many of the veneus serve food and drink, although you are not obliged to buy anything at all.
Most of the readings are at ground level with easy access. If there are stairs to be used then this is detailed in the map which you can download at the top of this page. Please check here for the latest event updates and more information.
Enjoy your journey around this wonderful novel that conjures up a Nottingham of half a century ago; a novel which begins with the words ‘But I know this city!’