BOOK REVIEW: Paul Madonna's "On to the Next Dream" Sketches out a Rapidly Changing San Francisco [PREVIEW]

What separates On to the Next Dream from other stories of gentrification is the strange sense of unreality (oddly reminiscent of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, of all things) that accompanies artist/writer Paul Madonna’s fictionalized struggle to survive in a rapidly changing San Francisco. As the author meanders around the city attempting to process the fact that he has been priced out of his old home and studio, he runs into a mass of people in line to view an apartment, when suddenly the sky is overtaken by a storm of code in this memorably dry passage:
[…][S]omeone screamed, ‘It’s a rush of investment capital from China!’ Another voice cried out, ‘No, it’s Canadian!’ And suddenly everyone’s clothes began disintegrating, as if we hadn’t been wearing actual fabric but body paint that was now washing off in the rain. Completely naked, people began running in all directions (37).
The tech scene’s conquering of the Bay Area is rendered here, however, in much more visceral, physical terms—strange, fantastical, frightening, and above all unavoidable. A couple that Madonna continually encounters at various apartment showings try to disguise themselves to fit whatever they think is the desired demographic—and manage to fail at this task every single time...

This review can be read in full at PopMatters here.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book with some humor and poignancy mixed together. You seem to like it but with a few reservations. I think Ill give it a read and see what I think. Thanks for a nicely written review that intrigues me.


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