Some books are imbued with the atmosphere and character of a place. The first that springs to my mind is Graham Swift’s Waterland, a story that somehow couldn’t be told in a different location, and more recently for me Jane Rusbridge’s The Devil’s Music was very much characterised by its seaside scenes (but not just any sea-side …)
And then the converse applies – places become defined by the books that are set there, and so we set off to visit Du Maurier’s Cornwall or Morse’s (oops, that’s Colin Dexter’s) Oxford. I know nothing of Baltimore except through Ann Tyler but would be happy to go there for just that reason.
Literature and tourism have always been happy bedfellows and I was contacted by a blogger in the East Neuk of Fife who makes a point of having books with a local flavour in her self-catering property (go there read my book for free!) And I’ve also found myself on a Postcards From the Edge, a blog that features coastal books. I’m thinking this reading/tourism lark is getting better and better.
Of course there have always been lots of ways to unearth local literature – you could even invest in something like the Oxford Guide to Literary Britain and plan your route accordingly.
But why not do it the other way around? You’re off on a new jaunt, is there a novel that would round off the trip? Although I hadn’t really thought of this at a conscious level until I stumbled on Trip Fiction.
Type in a location and bingo. A fab idea IMO and if I ever feel the need for ego massage, I just pop over there and search for Edinburgh. This may be the only place where I’m listed with Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin, but it does feel pretty good!
I’ll let you untangle the real and virtual geography of that one.