Make Me a City is a sprawling epic about the birth of Chicago. In the 1780s a man of African descent named Jean Baptiste Point du Sable built a house by a river. This is the settlement that would later become Chicago... Make Me a City is an ambitious, flawed debut. Some stories are more interesting than others, and the pace can flag. However, Carr has, in the most part, succeeded in creating an absorbing fictional chronicle of a city and its place in American history.
Make Me A City attempts a large-scale reconstruction of the development of Chicago during its first century, the 19th. Rather than following the story of a key protagonist, Make Me A City follows the story of the metropolis. As with Dickens, the city is a character in its own right; in Carr’s novel, however, it is the most important character of all...This is an ambitious book, and its prose is often entertaining and very readable. However, its formal aspirations never quite ring true, and sometimes the inhabitation of different voices and genres falls from imitation into parody... This is an unruly novel: daring and sometimes entertaining, but unfortunately falling short of its own ambition.