Vanessa Berry

Blueprint for a New City

1. Prestige car and furniture showrooms will be converted to ice-skating rinks.

2. Excavation sites will be sandpits for the giant boy.

3. The giant boy squashes three-bedroom houses like they are cupcakes. Watch out!

4. The water will be dosed with a chemical that turns everyone into synaesthetes.

5. The 7-11s will be photographic studios, where people can drop in for three a.m. portraits.

6. At night, the brightest places will be the 7-11s. From midnight to dawn, all other lights will be extinguished so the sky looks truly black.

7. Rubbish dumps will be scoured for family slides and Super-8 films. They will be screened on continuous loops in city apartments. Apartment blocks will appear to be built of flickering squares.

8. The ex-residents of these apartments will take over deserted mansions, dwell in caves, build palaces from shipping containers.

9. Writing on walls will be encouraged. Wherever you look ¬- words.

10. Freeways will be interrupted by deep pits where cars pile up like beads. The cars will be crushed into spheres and ejected into the sky, where they will become new moons.

11. The sky will be full of moons.

12. Between the roofs of tall buildings, trapeze wires.

13. Appliances will be powered by emotions. Don’t use the vacuum cleaner when angry.

14.Fruit will grow everywhere and will be free.

15. Instead of news reports, reports of our dreams.

16. Entry to exclusive parties will be decided by people’s proficiency in making shadow puppets. The social pages will be full of shadows.

17. Every citizen will be given three wishes. Use them wisely.

18. Every citizen will dress exactly as they want to at all times without ridicule. Striped flannelette pyjamas and shoes made of Astro Turf? As you wish.

19. Every citizen will feel as if they are starring in the lead role of a musical.

20. If the boy doesn’t squash you as he romps over the suburbs, If you want words to take on colours, If you don’t try to flee and fall into the pit, then you can live in the new city.

First published in the Sleepers Almanac 2006.

Eugen Ruge wins the German Book Prize 2011

His novel “In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts” is an autobiographical story of an East German family and his incredible literary debut.