The Great Khan contemplates an empire covered with cities that weigh upon the earth and upon mankind, crammed with wealth and traffic, overladen with ornaments and offices, complicated with mechanisms and hierarchies, swollen, tense, ponderous. "The empire is being crushed by its own weight," Kublai thinks, and in his dreams now cities light as kites appear, pierced cities like laces, cities transparent as mosquito netting, cities like leaves' veins, cities lined like a hand's palm . . .
The Great Khan owns an atlas in which are gathered the maps of all the cities: those whose walls rest on solid foundations, those which fell in ruins and were swallowed up by the sand, those that will exist one day and in whose place now only hares' holes gape." (pp. 73 and 137)
Excerpts from favorite passages in this strange, dreamy, poetic fable about how we see the world, and the mix of imagination and experience that is seeing, and how seeing becomes perspective, and how perspectives evolve as place and purpose, all premised upon a conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. A short but intense read, more intuited than understood, and perfect for bedtime, for falling asleep enchanted by its imagery. That's about all I can say though much more could be said. For a more involved and imaginative take, I recommend Riku Sayuj's fine review at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/208540464