Tuesday, January 5, 2010

In Which I Read A Book Set Locally

So if you're paying attention you can see I'm reading a new book. I finished the Laini Taylor book, which was quite good (and it had excellent illustrations!).

Lips Touch Three Times was a book I won from the wonderful Stephanie Perkins, which is awesome because I probably wouldn't have read it otherwise. Although I do have a goal of reading more YA.

Now I'm onto Alan DeNiro's Total Oblivion, More or Less. Mr. DeNiro is the husband of one of Twin's coworkers, and we hit up his release party/book signing a few weeks ago. Total Oblivion is set locally in St. Paul (for the beginning of the book anyway), which is both awesome and not so awesome.

Why you ask? Well I will tell you, since otherwise this would be a pretty crappy blog.

When I read a book that's set in a real place, and not just any real place like St Louis or somewhere, but a real place I'm familiar with, (IE, St Paul) I get excited. Maybe they'll write about somewhere I've been! I think in giddy preparation. Kind of like when you see someone you know on TV. I know them, you think, and therefore it offers your own existence a brief bit of importance. Or something.

So I start to read the book and one of two things are bound to happen - they write about somewhere I've been, or they don't. Both of these are bad (for me, anyway) for their own reasons.

The second one is obvious in that I'm sad if the book is set locally but I'm unfamiliar with the area. My original excitement was misplaced.

But the first option, well that's disappointing in a whole new way. If the book is set somewhere I HAVE been, then I spend so much time trying to align the description of the setting with the way I know and understand the place that it takes me out of the book and traps me firmly in my own mind.

If the book is set in a real place, but one I haven't been to, I can just make up the setting in my mind. This is something I find I can't do if I've actually been to the real location.

But all of this is just me, of course. I also have problems with historical fiction or other books where real people are intertwined in a fictional story (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay come to mind). I can't stand not knowing where the fiction starts and where it ends.

So with all of this said, this is one of the reasons all my fiction takes place in fabricated locations and cities. Of course, I write fantasy so that makes sense, but just a heads up - you'll probably never find fiction from me that's set down the street at a restaurant you frequent.


Teebore said...

I know them, you think, and therefore it offers your own existence a brief bit of importance.

Man, that is so true. I do it myself, and I *hate* that I do it. But I can't help it.

Now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever read a book that takes place in MN, or at least any part of MN with which I'm familiar. I certainly know a crapload of books that do, but I don't think I've ever read them.

I know what you mean about wanting to know where fact and fiction meet in historical fiction. I find that if the story is good enough, I think less about that and enjoy it on its own merits, and then when I finish the story, I dive into the whole "what was real?" question.

Of course, it helps if I already know something about the novel's subject matter. I had no problems with Kavalier and Clay because I already knew who the real creators were and who the fictional ones were.

Which is just my long-winded way of saying you need to get over this hangup and admit that Kavalier and Clay is awesome. :)

Falen said...

LMAO - i didn't have too many problems with K&C until Stan Lee showed up and started having dialogue - then i was all "Did he ACTUALLY say that?"

You should read a book set locally and let me know if it's just another hangup of mine, or if it's a common occurence

Anonymous said...

Wait- i thought Stan Lee never left?


Your Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome said...

I never have a problem reading local fiction because I never go anywhere or see anything when I do. I don't think it'll be a problem for me unless someone writes a book set in my apartment...which is possible but unlikely.

Falen said...

Well, Palindrome, i already said i won't so that will have to be up to you.

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