PositiveThe Guardian (UK)There is evidently a sort of man-of-action masochism at play. The more hurtful the better. Niceness doesn’t make good copy ... He has a wide-eyed unknowingness and is happy to agree that in the wildflower-obsessed Michel Bras’s cooking there is an essence that \'seems to radiate almost spiritually\' ... His affection for the everyday details and specificities of the place is attractive. But it is, strangely, not matched by an enthusiasm for the vernacular cooking of the city ... Lyon is what France was an indefinite time ago: Buford is lucky to have lived there then. He has written a report from that past.
RaveLiterary Review (UK)Macfarlane is a poet with the instincts of a thriller writer, an autodidact in botany, mycology, geology and palaeontology, an ambulatory encyclopedia ... The book’s settings are various. But in all of them darkness, discomfort and danger provide the decor. Such is the intensity of Macfarlane’s prose that the negative becomes the positive, the subterranean turns into the quotidian, the creatures of the blackness just go about their routines and the exceptional is the rule ... Underland is a moral hymn to the strangeness of existence and a sharp warning not to take anything for granted.
MixedThe Guardian\"Despite a few uncomfortable instances of \'outside the box\', \'world class city\' and \'tipping point\' ... Building and Dwelling is pretty much jargon free, quite an achievement given the milieu the author evidently frequents. It is, too, far from clueless ... This ineptly edited but constantly stimulating book is a lateish-life appraisal of what Sennett has read, written and, most vitally, witnessed on the street or in the marketplace in the tradition of the sharp-eyed, sharp-nosed flâneur taking in every sensation ... This tireless self-publicist enchants slow learners with his precious gift of stating the blindingly obvious yet making it seem original. Sennett is unimpressed by his highly unoriginal aperçu that city quarters where \'creatives\' settle will invariably become attractive to heavy money. \'Creatives\' in this context is a grossly flattering epithet for brainstormtroop, multiplatform contortionists, important synergy gurus nuking an outmoded logo from the face of a polo shirt. What it does not signify are actual makers, writers and artists, who in London increasingly have the choice of being forced out to zones 5 or 6 or leaving the metropolis altogether, an ever more enticing prospect given the curious instance of the ville becoming inimical to the cité because swaths of it are underpopulated hence largely deserted, thus dangerous. There is more security in density than in isolated gated \'communities\'.\