Re: RARA-AVIS: Nebulous geography

From: M Blumenthal (
Date: 06 Aug 2002

Doug Levin:

. > (Does it sleet in Galveston or Mobile, or is it a different gulf?) Can
> someone say something about the trends in/imperative toward naming your
> McBain's fictional city is obviously New York, but there are other
> cities that could be any medium-sized port city, or a moderate-sized
> midwestern city. I thought that maybe the hope was that readers would
> their own city or a city they knew and inject themselves into the scene,
> to speak. Do publishers and readers today want places named? (Though the
> great crime novel of Portland -- Kent Anderson's Night Dogs -- benefits
Doug, At least before global warming, at least, occasionally there certainly could be sleet and temperatures around freezing in those cities In one of miker's favorites books, A Garden of Sand, there are scenes set in Mobile in where the weather gets pretty nasty.

I hadn't realized Night Dogs was set in Portland. With both my kids probably settling there for a while I'll have to make sure I read it soon.

As to your general question we have discussed how both McBain and Lehane in Mystic River have set their books in a definite city but don't want to name it so they won't have to deal with quibbles if they make a mistake or choose alter the actual geography.

Personally I enjoy reading books set in a city I'm familiar with rather than a generic one. Even if I don't know a city I feel it makes seem more real to me if characters going down actual streets or living in real area as opposed to the whole thing being made out of the author's imagination. Mark

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