From: M Blumenthal (
Date: 17 Dec 2001

> Obviously setting is one of the elements you use to help the reader
> disbelief.You try to convincingly portray the locales for your story, not
> only physically, geographically, but also the spirit of a place.What that
> requires varies with the reader..
> local readers will need more to feel that the city has come to life.A
variety of concerns
> determine how accurately I would portray places in the story.Lawsuit
> avoidance,protection of the innocent, narrative necessity coupled with
> ignorance of the available reality, research undone by fallible memory,my
> sense of what is unique about D.C and it's environs.My stories are not
> that could only be set in D.C. but I want the reader to to feel that they
> set in D.C.The accuracy of the settings in my books is not arbitrary, it's
> product of all these concerns plus others I'm not aware of,imperfectly
> upon.

Ben, I agree with you on trying to be accurate. Although I don't know the Washington area well enough to be able to know how correct you are, I am familiar enough to appreciate various passages about the Beltway and some areas like Tyson's Corner. Your books mainly centered in the suburbs contrast nicely with George Pelecanos' mainly set in the city.

We touched upon some of this last month when we discussed Boston. I am a native of Boston and have been was a little bugged at Dennis Lehane's sometime changinging the geography of the are to suit his puposes. In his last book he invented the fictional town of Mystic River so he can still have the feel of Boston without having to concern himself with the about the actual details.

Yet, I got a kick in his Darkness, Hold My Hand when Lehane wrote accurately wrote about the neighborhood I grew up in with not only the correct names of the streets but even that of an actual theater and a store. Similarly, I know Mark Sullivan enjoyed it when, in All the Old Bargains, Leo and Sam ate at Crisfield's which is a block away from his apartment. Mark

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