5 authors who set their novels in their own stomping grounds
Some writers tend to hover in certain areas, states, locales, towns, etc. We think Faulkner, and there is Mississippi; John Updike means New England; Cormac McCarthy always writes about, well…America in general, I guess; and, Pete Hamill is New York. So this time, the FC Bookworm recommends authors’ series ambulating in American nooks, and not individual books. To the stacks!
Set in New Jersey, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is…how do I say it? Well, this is some irresistible fictive junk food. These novels, each with a numbered hook, like Sue Grafton’s lettered crime series, are funny, unbelievable, and unbelievably funny. Her latest is Takedown Twenty, just out in hardcover! (PS: Try the audiobook series; those are great.)
In our arrogance, we East Coasters always forget that something lies between the shores, out there, in the (Mid)west. Whatever that particular thing is, and however you define it, Wallace Stegner seems to give it voice. Angle of Repose and Crossing To Safety are justly celebrated works of Americana, and our collective condition as Americans. Angle of Repose itself is a kind of history of history; if you haven’t read it, give it a go.
Like New Orleans? You probably have already read Anne Rice, so check out Smith’s Skip Langdon series—it’s just what you need. A fine mystery writer, Smith won the Edgar Award in 1991 for New Orleans Mourning (considered her best novel). She’s written nearly 20 books, with many other series works, apart from her jaunts with her most courageous, popular policewoman.
I put the great Saul Bellow on here for personal reasons—I need to revisit his works. He spent time in New York (much of Humboldt’s Gift, my fave, is set there), but he is so closely associated with Chicago that the city assumes an architecture, of a sort, in his prose. I hope that, in returning to his books, they don’t seem dated to me, as I read them decades ago.
O’Connor’s short stories conjure up the South vividly, and also, nightmarishly. Sometimes they offer caricatures; other times, they are true, minutely realized pieces of crystalline short fiction. Her collected short works, The Complete Stories, will keep you reading for an enjoyably long time, so dig right in.