a sense of place

"London is a manuscript, a square mile scribbled over by two thousand years of Londoners; it is parchment scraped clean and used again. But around London Wall the streets still curve, and the Tower and Westminster Abbey still stand. And Shakespeare is as big as the London Wall. Shakespeare left traces." (p. 78)

A coworker once told me reading Dickens and other fictional works informed his mental map of London; he needed nothing at hand to know the city's streets or the way to the Thames.

I, on the other hand, very much need detailed, indexed maps. In fact, when reading a novel, I tend to skip over detailed descriptions of land and streets. At least, until I've been to the places being written about -- Elizabeth Hay's Late Nights on Air never made so much sense as after I had returned from Yellowknife. Now, on a second read of Chasing Shakespeares, I know all the places Sarah Smith writes of, and I appreciate how the main character, Joe Roper, wants so badly to see the the history of the city come to life.

1 comment:

erin said...

I find it surprising, then, that you find Mordecai Richler so intolerable. I love his irrascible wit and droll humour, but every mention of some Montreal or Eastern Townships location causes a little flash of nostalgia for me...