Lonely City: A New Field Guide to San Francisco

Every once in awhile, there comes a beautiful work of art that gives rightful tribute to the place we call home.

Whether it comes in the form of song, literature, or art, these tributes depict more than the Golden Gate Bridge or the Transamerica Pyramid — they depict San Francisco's character, energy, and diversity.

And Wendy MacNaughton's new work, Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in Its Own Words, is a great addition to this list. The illustrated work from Chronicle Books depicts life in S.F.: the Civic Center Farmers Market, the swimmers of the Dolphin Club, the staff of the San Francisco Library's main branch, Muni drivers.

But instead of simply sketching these places and persons, MacNaughton uses their own words. In one, a Muni driver who gets paid about $30 an hour explains it's “A dollar to drive and $29 to deal with people.”

MacNaughton finds out the names of all the bison in Golden Gate Park, the names of approximately 50 dogs she's encountered, and dissects the anatomy of the perfect Mission District burrito. There's even a map depicting the social groups found in Dolores Park — well before the current remodeling.

The San Francisco-based illustrator gathers 176 pages under a book jacket that unfolds into a map which acts as a topical table of contents, so that readers can locate each chapter in the book in relation to its geographic location.

MacNaughton's book can be an introductory course for people new to (or visiting) San Francisco; but it also serves as the perfect love letter to San Francisco for those who live here and know its strangeness and beauty.

The book brings to mind that famous quote by columnist Herb Caen: “If I do go to heaven, I'm going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to heaven. He looks around and says, 'It ain't bad, but it ain't San Francisco.'”

You can buy the book on Amazon, but we suggest you pick it up at a local bookstore.

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