Authors as Landscapers

The most crucial elements of most literary works are the characters, plot, and quality of prose. But another important element is the landscape: where things happen, what that place looks like, the mood that locale might create, and how that place might affect what’s going on with the characters and plot.

And when some of that aforementioned prose is used to describe “the scenery,” the description can be quite evocative in the right authorial hands.

Landscape is a key part of Lee Child’s 61 Hours, a Jack Reacher crime thriller I just read. Reacher unexpectedly finds himself stuck in a bone-chillingly cold South Dakota town — and the bleak, wide-open spaces in and near that town help establish the novel’s spare, tense, scary, lonely, downbeat vibe.

South of South Dakota — in Oklahoma — is where John Steinbeck depicts the parched, dust storm-decimated farm country the impoverished Joads are forced to leave in The Grapes of Wrath. When they finally arrive in California after an arduous journey, they are struck by the Golden State’s lushness and beauty — only to find that the oppressive rich control just about everything.

That contrast of beauty and misery also crops up in Herman Melville’s first novel Typee, in which the protagonist is stranded on a gorgeous South Seas island where some ensuing events turn ugly. (Another contrast is the fact that the good but not great Typee sold many more copies than Moby-Dick during Melville’s lifetime.)

Then there are the rolling, moonlit, windswept moors in Wuthering Heights that do so much to help create the novel’s wild, eerie mood. When Emily Bronte’s characters trudge through that terrain, their destinations usually aren’t happy ones.

Rivers? Literature has a few, with perhaps the most famous being the mighty Mississippi in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Also memorable is the Tennessee River in Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree, whose titular protagonist lives in a houseboat. The Tennessee is lovely in parts, but also speaks to the poverty and despair of some characters — as when a suicide victim is pulled from the water.

Mountains? Glad you asked! In Lost Horizon, various characters are flown to (the fictional) Shangri-La amid Tibet’s majestic peaks. That towering, remote, dream-like setting is a big reason why many readers find James Hilton’s novel so mesmerizing. Even more towering are the peaks in H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.

Swamps? Mentioned in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Jungles? Parts of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast. The desert? Um…Desert by J.M.G. Le Clezio.

Changes in scenery when traveling? A good example, in Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, is when Brit-living-near-Boston Howard revels in the no-snow look of England when he goes there during the winter.

A landscape can of course be urban, too. In The Marble Faun, Rome is almost a living, breathing character as Nathaniel Hawthorne describes its beautiful but hectic 19th-century present and its beautiful but spooky ancient past. The excitement and claustrophobia of a big city like Chicago comes through in Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. An amazing visual image in Jack Finney’s Time and Again is the Statue of Liberty’s torch-holding arm in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, where that arm was actually displayed from 1876 to 1882 — before the full statue arose in New York Harbor.

Daphne du Maurier’s The House on the Strand shows an English town’s landscape in both the populated 1900s and less-populated 1300s, depending on the century protagonist Dick Young mentally occupies in his drugged mind.

Other time-travel novels, such as H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, hauntingly picture future civilizations with architecture in partial or full ruin.

Science-fiction books, such as Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, feature the unfamiliar yet at times sort of familiar landscapes of other worlds besides Earth.

There are also devastating views of battlefields — during and after the fighting — in Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, Sir Walter Scott’s Old Mortality, and many other novels.

Landscapes in literature can also convey a strong sense of nostalgia, as with James Fenimore Cooper’s descriptions of New York’s unspoiled 18th-century woods in novels such as The Deerslayer. Some of those forests were already getting cut down when Cooper was writing in the 19th century — and undeveloped areas are of course much more scarce today.

What are some of your favorite fictional works featuring memorable landscapes?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else. Also, please feel free to read through comments and reply to anyone you want; I love not only being in conversations, but also reading conversations in which I’m not involved!)

For three years of my Huffington Post literature blog, click here.

I’m also writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in New York City and Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

127 thoughts on “Authors as Landscapers

  1. the ship of brides – jo jo moyes bad title pretty good book If you can get pass the first two chapters.It’s about war brides and a lovely nurse with a terrible past on a battered oil rig going to meet their husband with no guarantees.

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  2. Surprised Thomas Hardy’s novels haven’t yet figured in here. His so called Wessex novels more or less reintroduced a geographical term designating the area in southwestern Britain surrounding his native Dorset. In his later works such as Jude The Obscure, Far From The Maddening Crowd , and one of my favorites from the 19th century The Mayor of Caster bridge the heaths , brooks, farmland and small villages are often the most important characters of the books. Fate or destiny in the Greek sense are usually the underlying themes of the works along with the inevitable encroachment of the industrialized world on an almost mythical rural past. Changes to and exploitation of the earth propel the plots subtly yet relentlessly ,weather as a cause and reflection of mood is also done brilliantly by Mr. Hardy. It’s often seemed to me that for various reasons his work is neglected in favor of more familiar Victorian writers. I think perhaps he straddled the fence between an idealized past and the modern age to come better than any authors save the Great Russians and what he saw makes us uncomfortable. On a side note Dave I loved your reference below to Suttree and the Tennessee river, I’d suggest it’s an area that one could imagine metaphorically slumming in, so to speak, with pleasure. His latter novels on the other hand are a different story, the American Southwest and Mexico of Blood Meridian or The Crossing trilogy gives us geography as an antagonist and implacable foe in my opinion.

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    • Glad you mentioned Thomas Hardy, Donny, and so eloquently, too! You’re right that he’s underrated as 19th-century novelists go — sort of considered second tier, though he should be considered more in the second half of the first tier.

      (I just thought of W. Somerset Maugham once describing himself as “sitting in the front row of the second tier of writers”!)

      Hardy DID excel at describing/evoking scenery — from rural to urban (the latter in a novel like “The Hand of Ethelberta,” which is partly set in London).

      As for “Suttree” and Tennessee, Cormac McCarthy definitely had a real handle on the landscape of that part of the country — making it seem partly like a pleasurable place when compared to his often-harsh depictions of the southwestern and Mexican vistas of the later, more chilling fiction you cited.

      I’m not remembering where McCarthy set “The Road” (if it was even mentioned in that apocalyptic novel), but the landscape was pretty darn horrific.

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    • I couldn’t agree more that Thomas Hardy seems to be under-appreciated. I’ve only recently, within the past couple of years, begun to read his works. I started out with the Mayor of Casterbridge and absolutely fell in love with it. This last summer I read Tess of the d’Ubervilles and was captivated. I look forward to continuing with his other novels. You are right on target for pointing out that he is one of the very best examples of “authors as landscapers”. Whilst reading the books, I was there in rural southwest England, hearing the birds, smelling the soil, enjoying the ambience of the local watering hole, strolling the meadows. Both novels are tragic, but landscape remains a comforting element.

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      • Thanks, drb19810, for the thoughts about Thomas Hardy and those two great books of his!

        “Both novels are tragic, but landscape remains a comforting element” — love that line! Interesting how the landscape of a novel can “support” the theme of a novel or be a sort of counterpoint to that theme.

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      • Very well put and again The Mayor of Casterbridge is one of the most remarkable novels to come out of the 19th century . Hardy’s ability to give us not only the land but the people who lived off it as their lifestyle’s were being swept away by the industrial revolution is unmatched.

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  3. Re your citing of the Grapes of Wrath, in particular, California as discovered to be in the hands of the usual suspects, an instructive lyric from one of OK’s famous sons:

    Read through the want ads every day
    The headlines in the paper always say
    If you ain’t got the dough-re-mi, boy
    If you ain’t got the dough-re-mi
    Well you better go back to beautiful Texas,
    Oklahoma, Kansas City, Tennessee
    California’s the garden of Eden
    It’s a paradise to live in or see
    But believe it or not
    You won’t find it so hot
    If you ain’t got the dough-re-mi. –Woody Guthrie

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  4. Howdy, Dave!

    — What are some of your favorite fictional works featuring memorable landscapes? —

    Lapine landscapes of Richard Adams’ _Watership Down_ are so integral to the novel the author channels his inner J.R.R. Tolkien to present us therewith a scale map of the territory more or less centered on Nuthanger Farm, although, being two-dimensional, it cannot give us a true picture of the encompassed warrens traversed from time to time by the company surrounding the visionary Hazel, who, unlike others of his short-lived ilk, “learned to know well the changes of the downs to spring, to winter and to spring again.”

    Some bunny.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

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    • Nicely said, J.J.! It IS impressive when authors conjure imaginary worlds so completely that they can draw maps of the darn things. 🙂

      I seem to also remember one or more maps in C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia” books, but then again I might be thinking of an abridged, profusely illustrated “Narnia” version my daughter had when she was younger.

      “Watership Down” is great, as is the work of Tolkien, of course.

      “Some bunny” — loved the way you ended your comment!

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  5. The scene is the subject here, but sometimes the scene changes. Here are two examples of what I mean:

    Chester Himes, black crime fiction writer, wrote about New York City, Harlem mostly, throughout his series of novels featuring Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, but at least one of them, revolving around a woman crime boss, was actually inspired by memories and characters from Indianapolis (or another midWest city..Cleveland?) , which Himes then transferred to its NYC location. I cannot remember nor deduce which of the novels in the series I refer to– it’s been too many years.

    Jack Kerouac’s The Subterraneans takes place in San Francisco, but was based on events and characters in New York City– too much junkie business and ill-disguised real folks caused the author to change the setting at publication, to the relief of several.

    New York, just like I pictured it– except when it isn’t.

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    • Such an interesting comment, jhNY, with a brilliant last line! Reminds me a bit of how some movies set in New York City are shot in, say, Toronto. 🙂

      Fiction is such an amalgam of things, and often a product of very intense imagining, so transposing cities in the way you describe is not totally surprising.

      Then there are the authors who set books in places they’ve never been, yet are able to describe those places — either through research (other books, photos, etc.) or via pure imagination. Certainly the case with sci-fi works set on other planets, but also with some fiction set on good old Earth.

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          • When Turkey was up for EU membership about fifteen years ago, a Syrian man of my acquaintance was amused, as he had property near the Turkish border– the value was sure to go up he said, jokingly, as he was now so conveniently close to Europe…

            Gee, Dave, at one point, you lived 6 blocks away from me!

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            • A great Turkey anecdote!

              You’re in a very appealing part of Manhattan. It was many moons ago — from 1978 to 1981 — that I lived on the Upper West Side. Between Broadway and West End Avenue on 98th, and between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive on 102nd.

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                • You’re an Upper West Side veteran, jhNY! (And have obviously seen much gentrification.)

                  It has been so long that I have no memory if I ate or didn’t eat at Sal’s!

                  For a few months during my UWS stay I owned an ancient VW Beetle that I put in a parking garage east of Broadway (after the battery was swiped when I parked the car on the street). The garage (inexpensive back then) was somewhere in the mid-90s between Broadway and Amsterdam.

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                  • Sal’s (now named Sal and Carmine’s) has always enjoyed the reputation of having the best slice of pizza on the UWS and was at the time of your habitation, on Broadway around 92nd St– it has since moved up Broadway a bit, but not, though I’d be happy to believe otherwise, to be closer to me

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                    • Ha ha! Maybe Sal’s DID move for that reason. 🙂

                      Perhaps its former location near 92nd explains why I’m not remembering it well. When I used to “dine” close to the two apartments I (consecutively) lived in, I gravitated to eateries somewhat north of 92nd.

                      I did frequently stroll down to Broadway and 95th (?) to take in old movies at the former Thalia theater, with its very crooked floors. Saw many Hitchcock films there, among other things.

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  6. Lampedusa’s The Leopard features description of the harsh and unrelenting landscape of rural Sicily, blazing away under the sun,as experienced by the principal’s family on its way to its summer residence.

    Lermontov’s A Hero For Our Time is contains lyrical and lengthy descriptions of the spectacular natural beauty of the Caucasus– descriptions made by both narrator and characters, and impossible to disentangle, stylistically, from one another. Just goes to show, when an author is good at something, he occasionally confers his his gift to his readers over-lavishly, and out of too many points of view. A minor complaint about one of the few books I’ve read twice over the last few years. Yes, it’s that good.

    Tolstoy, as I remember him, seems to me to be among the most reliable sources for memorable description of place– the family estate on which he lived till his mother’s death in “Childhood”, the countryside in “Sebastopol Sketches”– both come immediately to mind.

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    • Excellent additions to this discussion, jhNY! Fitting that you offered great descriptions of several authors/works that have great descriptions…of landscapes.

      “The Leopard” is still very high on my reading list.

      I’ve seen firsthand the region in Lermontov’s book (from the air and from the ground), and it’s quite striking. Sometimes authors DO overdo the descriptions — of landscapes and other things.

      As for Tolstoy, he of course did a LOT of things well, except perhaps marriage? 🙂

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      • It’s not so much that Lermontov overdid the description, but that the same power of description animates the narrator and one of the characters who keeps a journal, to the point that the reader cannot but conclude that we’re reading Lermontov, author, and not the characters of his book, which spoils the illusion a bit.

        That being said, the descriptions are beautiful, and beautifully done.

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        • Thanks for correcting me! 🙂 I see what you’re saying (and said). Not good when two or more characters sound like and/or are the mouthpieces for a novelist. That shows the authorial “puppet strings” a little too much, and, as you allude to, harms the illusion of the fictional character being an “actual person” rather than a creation of the author.

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  7. “The Hassayampa River, a burly stream with its share of trout, rises in northern China, meanders through an Indian reservation in central Wisconsin, and empties finally into Croton Lake not a mile from where I live in southern New York state.” This is the opening line of an obscure novel call “Blood Sport” by Robert F. Jones that fits in perfectly with this topic. This book, written in the 70s, involves a father and his pre-teen son, as they explore the mythical river. Kind of a bildungsroman, the novel begins with the father taking his boy on a camping trip so he can begin his transition to manhood. However, the boy’s transition during this trip takes him much further, as he embraces everything that is implied by the negative aspects of machismo.

    This book is sort of a cross between Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” and Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” (two classics that fit with this topic). One critic described it as “’Deliverance’ on acid”. A VERY fascinating novel that has elements of comedy, adventure, and horror. It very much fits in the “magic realism” genre that has been recently brought up in these posts.

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    • drb19810, thanks for your eloquent comment — as well as the very evocative line you quoted that opens it. I’m wrestling with the geographic improbability of that line. 🙂 But, as you say, the river is mythical!

      “Blood Sport” DOES sound fascinating, and it’s in great company with aspects of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Heart of Darkness.” (Conrad’s novel indeed is chock full of landscape elements.)

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  8. Hi Dave … What a thought-provoking post you’ve given us! You really know how to keep us on our toes 🙂 If I had a few more neurons synapsing tonight I might be able to come up with more than just one, but all I can think of is Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi.” It’s been a long time since I read that book — high school, in fact — but that began my love affair with Twain. I still remember feeling as if I were on that boat and experiencing the river first-hand.

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    • Thanks for the kind words and engaging comment, Pat! I especially liked your “neurons synapsing” phrase. 🙂

      “Life on the Mississippi” IS a great book — part memoir, part work of history. Mark Twain’s descriptions of the Mississippi’s look and topography are marvelous, and it’s fascinating to read about his pre-Civil War time as a riverboat pilot. (A time, of course, that gave Samuel Clemens the idea for his nautical-related pen name.)

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  9. I am so happy to see that you enjoyed your Jack Reacher experience, Dave! I am really, really intrigued by that character to the point of having a mad crush on him.

    I loved your post, Dave. The moors in “Wuthering Heights” are absolutely essential to the mood of the novel. The same can be said for the mountains in “Lost Horizon”. The descriptions in both these novels have left me haunted all of these years.

    Another novel whose landscape left me mesmerized is “A Single Pebble” by John Hersey. I think I mentioned the novel once in a Huffington Post piece. It’s a novel about a young engineer sent to inspect the Yangtze River for possible dam sites. His descriptions of the landscape of that region (and the people) are spellbinding. Since then, the things described in the novel have come to pass. Close friends of mine made that journey along the Yangtze to the Three Rivers Gorges a few years back in celebration of his 75th birthday.

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    • Thanks for the kind words, lulabelleharris, and for being one of the people to recommend the novels starring Jack Reacher! He IS a rather fascinating guy — smart, interested in justice (sometimes of a vigilante nature), no home, and with certain interesting quirks (such as buying a new set of clothes every few days).

      “Wuthering Heights” and “Lost Horizon” really do cast a spell.

      That Hersey novel sounds exceptional. The only book of his I’ve read is the nonfiction “Hiroshima,” which is masterful and about as harrowing a read as one will ever experience.

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  10. I like this week’s post for so many reasons. It is a hodgepodge of some of my favourite lit themes you’ve covered in the past (weather/geography/nature)

    L.M. Montgomery perfectly incorporated these elements in the Anne of Green Gables series. It is impossible to not smile and reminisce about care-free childhood and young adulthood while reading Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island.

    There is a chapter from Anne of Avonlea that I’m particularly drawn to called A Golden Picnic. Anne, her best friend Diana, and two other friend-girls (Jane and Priscilla) decided to have a mock birthday party for Anne. Her birthday was in March, but she preferred celebrating in the spring.

    This chapter encompasses everything that we all love about the spring: crystal clear lakes and ponds, warm breezes, blissfulness, fragrant flowers and trees. The imagery that Montgomery paints makes you feel as if you’re there with Anne and the girls, exploring nature and enjoying the sights and sounds of spring.

    Also, the background of 1930s Chicago in the winter provided the perfect setting for a criminal on the run in Native Son. Bigger Thomas’ capture was dramatic, but it was just something about the urban elements -the traffic, poverty, abandoned buildings, even the dirty snow- that really made the 2nd part of Native Son come alive.

    Dave, I have a confession to make. When I first skimmed the title of your post, I thought it was going to be about the former professions of authors (the landscape part made me think of jobs/careers). So I immediately thought about previous jobs once held by some of my fav authors:

    Richard Wright – worked a variety of menial, low-wage jobs in Memphis and Chicago, including hotel bellhop, errand boy at an optical lens company, animal handler for medical students at a research facility

    John Grisham – attorney and a Representative in the Mississippi legislature

    George Orwell – police officer in British India

    See, I was about to take your topic into a whole other direction; shame on me for skimming and not paying attention to what I was reading. But I’m just coming off a 12 hour shift at the medical facility where I work, I’m tired/sleepy, so cut me some slack. LOL. Talk to you later.

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    • Thanks for the kind words, Ana!

      I’m very glad you brought up — and wonderfully described — landscape-related aspects of L.M. Montgomery’s work. In “Anne of Green Gables” itself (the first book of the series, as you know), one of the early highlights was Anne’s description of the tree-lined path Matthew’s wagon was going through as “The White Way of Delight.” A lovely sight for an imaginative orphan girl who hadn’t seen that kind of natural beauty before.

      There’s also some great scenery depictions in Montgomery’s “The Blue Castle.”

      Chicago in the winter — whether in the 1930s or today — conjures up plenty of vivid mental images. I spent one winter just north of the Windy City (in Evanston), and it was brutal — albeit at times striking to look at.

      A while back at HP, I wrote a post about other jobs authors had — and some of those jobs were quite interesting or menial or agonizing, etc. You named some excellent examples. One of my favorites has always been Kurt Vonnegut briefly running a car dealership (not a favorite time for that late author, I’m sure).

      Twelve hours is a LONG shift. Good luck getting some deserved rest from that.

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      • I did not want to see the Matthew character leave so early in the series. He was such a shy and gentle soul. Other deaths occurred in the subsequent books, with the death of Anne and Gilbert’s first child in Anne’s House of Dreams being the most heartbreaking.

        Ethel Turner somewhat reminds me of L.M. Montgomery. The children in her most popular book, Seven Little Australians, put you in the mind of Anne Shirley and her friends…mischievous, grew up in idyllic settings, experienced the joys of childhood, yet sometimes faced with traumatic life events.

        I admire the sensitive and mature ways both authors approached the topic of death in their books. They didn’t make it scary for children, but instead taught them that death, well, is a part of life.

        It’s been awhile since I’ve inappropriately added a music topic to my posts, so let me go ahead and do that now. The artist I’m currently obsessed with is Roy Orbison. She’s a Mystery To Me played on my pod during a random play (that was the song Bono and Edge wrote for Orbison on the last album he was working on right before his death). Beautiful song.

        I’ve been playing my Traveling Wilburys music non-stop, and it will probably continue through the weekend. Next week’s music will be rockabilly. Roy Orbison was not a major player in the rockabilly genre. He did, however, record at Sun Studio where Carl Perkins and a lot of rockabilly heavyweights recorded, so that’s good enough for me.

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        • I know — the death of the quiet, kind, wonderful Matthew was heartbreaking. L.M. Montgomery didn’t hesitate to portray the downbeat side of life at times — perhaps partly influenced by the heartbreak that marked part of her own life.

          As an aside, that author really played around with the matter of death in her funny/poignant adult novel “The Blue Castle” — which I love.

          Thanks for the great description of Ethel Turner, who I should try sometime.

          The late Roy Orbison’s voice — wow! He was a MAJOR talent. And what a “supergroup” The Traveling Wilburys were.

          I visited Sun Studio back in 1991 — my one trip to Memphis. A VERY historic place for music. Speaking of Bono and The Edge, have you seen the 1980s U2 movie “Rattle and Hum”? As you probably know, it included a terrific scene at Sun Studio.

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          • Hmmm. Maybe I should invest in more Montgomery titles outside of the AoGG series. Just did a quick scan of the ole bookshelf, and I only have one: Emily of New Moon.

            I have the Rattle and Hum VHS tape (lol) and DVD. The Sun Studio scene featured the Memphis Horns. It was the part where they rehearsed Angel of Harlem. All of the footage from Memphis was awesome. Larry looked so cool at Graceland, and I recognised the hill that Edge slid down while Heartland played in the background. He was on I-55 on Riverside Drive overlooking the Mississippi River. That was the route you took to go to Mud Island.

            No childhood in Memphis was complete without multiple trips to (1) Sun Studio (2) Stax museum (3) Mud Island (4) Peabody library (5) Adventure River

            Have a good day, Dave.

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            • Montgomery’s “Emily” trilogy is excellent, too. Her most semi-autobiographical fiction, from what I hear.

              Not surprised you know all about the “Rattle and Hum” movie, Ana! Great that you remember so many details. I have the film on VHS, too — with no VCR to play it. 😦

              I unfortunately missed most of the Memphis sites you mentioned. I was covering an editorial cartoonists’ conference at the Peabody Hotel, and only got out here and there. I did see Graceland, and the motel where MLK was assassinated (before that building became a civil rights museum). I also saw those silly Peabody ducks parading across the hotel lobby…

              Have a good day, too!

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              • “The Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of The Peabody Hotel and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg. The Peabody is the Paris Ritz, the Cairo Shepherd’s, the London Savoy of this section. If you stand near its fountain in the middle of the lobby… ultimately you will see everybody who is anybody in the Delta…”
                – Author/Historian David Cohn, 1935.

                Especially if that anybody is a duck. Wonder if Donald or Daffy ever stayed there?

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              • Go to a thrift store if you’re in the market for a VCR. Last time I checked the electronics section at Goodwill, there were 3 in stock, and the prices ranged between $10 – $15 (but the price can always be lowered if you simply ask). I can see the Goodwill stores in your area having similar price ranges.

                If you saw the Lorraine Motel and Graceland with your limited time, you did ok. If you stayed at the Peabody, 2 very interesting non-tourist heavy spots were not too far from you on Beale Street.

                (1) Robert Church Park – named after the first black millionaire in Memphis. He used his financial resources and real estate ventures to rebuild the city after the yellow fever epidemic. Africa in April and the Mid-South Pride fest are held there. It’s a very pretty area.

                (2) W.C. Handy Park – this is the best place to hear local music. Cover charge is only $10, much more affordable than the clubs on Beale. It’s a perfect spot to listen to, then talk music and music history with local musicians. That is where I heard the most interesting back stories on Stax records and the Stax artists.

                Serious question for you: did you sign the wall at Graceland?

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                • That’s a good idea, Ana. Astoundingly low VCR prices! I’m trying to “de-clutter” because I’m in a much smaller space, but I certainly still have plenty of videocassettes I could play.

                  I did walk along Beale Street and probably saw those two parks, but I don’t remember for sure. Terrific descriptions by you of both places!

                  I did not sign the Graceland wall. Did you at any point? I’m not really much of an Elvis fan; I went out of curiosity. Are you a fan of his music or not?

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                  • You see that row of books on my Twitter page? About 90% of those titles came from Goodwill, and that’s just the top shelf. Thrift and charity stores are great. I am confident you will find a VCR.

                    I signed the wall in English and Portuguese. Graceland was on of the first places my parents took us to when we moved to Memphis. YES, I am a Presley fan. Not to the point where I participated in those candlelight vigils every August, but I did and still do have a lot of his music (gospel and rock) in my collection.

                    To be honest though, there aren’t too many musicians from the 50s and 60s that I don’t like. I know that my, ahhhh, *demographics* don’t exactly match the people who you’d normally associate with being 50s – 60s music fans, but in my home growing up every music genre was appreciated and respected. Know what’s playing on the stereo right now as I get ready for work? The DC 5. I am tapping my foot to Glad All Over.

                    Hey…what can I say?

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                    • Well, Ana, you have wonderfully wide musical tastes — by era, genre, etc. 🙂

                      I actually own The Dave Clark Five album with “Glad All Over” on it. (One of the first three or four albums I bought as a kid in the ’60s.) Loved that band for a while, but I thought a number of “British Invasion” groups were better — including, of course, The Beatles, The Who, the Stones, The Moody Blues, etc.

                      Signing the Graceland wall in two languages — very nice! I wonder how much touring (if any) Elvis did outside the U.S.?

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                    • Morning Ana…looks to me I missed the whole lot of conversation in Dave`s this week. First had guests, then catching up. Then got involved in FB with family…with old, meaning more than 100 year old family photographs and tried to solve puzzles.
                      My older brother have a family tree past 7 generation before us.

                      I love your twitter page, books are so nicely arranged.

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          • One of my fondest teen-age memories is seeing Roy Orbison and his wife on twin Honda Dream 300 motorcycles, waiting at a four-way stop about two blocks from my house. His was all black: saddlebags, seat, tank, everything. Hers was like his, only all white.

            Sadly, not long after, she was killed in a road accident.

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            • I like Rush, but I’m not sure I like them enough to pay money to see them in concert. Meaning my cool card is now…gone. 🙂

              (By the way, I finished writing a “sports in literature” piece for posting this Sunday evening, and will credit you in the first comment for suggesting the idea!)

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              • Nah, you can keep your cool card. Only reason you’re allowed to hold on to it is because of your status as a major U2 fan. Anyone who still owns U2 vinyl albums is ok with me.

                Woo hoo, blog cred! My life is now complete. LOL. Duty calls, so have a good weekend, Dave.

                Liked by 1 person

                  • Dave good Morning…missed the whole week in here. Tai Chi this morning and then read in here. What a conversation you all are having…now I picked up Grey Mountain from yesterday from where I left off …after 2 weeks…always something in the way. 😉

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Good morning, bebe — and thanks for the comment! Sounds like you’ve had a busy, interesting, enjoyable week.

                      Hope you’re enjoying that John Grisham novel! I hear you about getting sidetracked from reading; it’s always nice to come back to a book by an excellent author.

                      I couldn’t resist and took out another Jack Reacher novel (“Worth Dying For”) from the library yesterday. As you know, it’s the one after “61 Hours,” and I HAD to see what happened to Reacher after the cataclysmic ending to that previous book. Just 20 pages in, but Lee Child has me hooked again!

                      I wanted some variety, so I also took out novels by Henry James, Stendahl, M.L. Stedman, Steve Martin, and Alistair MacLean (Ana’s recommendation).

                      New post coming this evening…

                      Liked by 1 person

    • My wife and I are taking a driving vacation this year to the Canadian Maritime Provinces. I’ve never read “Anne of Green Gables”, but I understand it takes place on Prince Edward Island. I am definitely going to read this classic before our trip. Based on what I read in this post, it will add alot of texture to to our travel experience

      Liked by 1 person

      • Atlantic Canada is such a beautiful, friendly place. I talked the hubby into honeymooning there. We were supposed to spend the entire 10 days in Halifax, but ended up splitting the time between Halifax and Moncton. We didn’t want to leave when it was time to go…it was just that lovely.

        You do not want to leave PEI until you’ve seen at least one show from the Anne of Green Gables musical. It’s usually held there on the island in Charlottetown, but every blue moon the production will move to another location. The one and only time I’ve seen it was during a summer trip to Toronto to visit family. Even if you don’t like musicals, this one is still worth attending. The tickets are very affordable, actors/actresses are great, and the musicians are very lively. Everything that one loves about the Green Gables series is captured in the musical.

        Atlantic Canada has something for everyone. It is bursting with history, adventure, tranquility, culture, and fun. I would love to return within the next 2-3 years. I’m sure you and your wife will have a fabulous time (and if you stop anywhere in Nova Scotia, you HAVE to buy a kilt. LOL).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ana – THANK YOU for the tip about the musical. I just looked it up on line, and it is playing in Charlottestown during our visit. We will definately get tickets. My wife and I decided to read “Anne of Green Gables” aloud to each other this spring in anticipation of our trip. (Something we’ve never done in our 34 years of marriage).

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  11. Hi Dave, this column made me think of a non-fiction book that I’ve mentioned before by Anne Lamott, “Bird by Bird.” The subject is about the process of writing, and one of the topics has to do with “set design.” For example, she wrote a novel in which it was important to her that the main character was a gardener; however, Lamott isn’t a gardener herself (like me, she killed every plant ever given to her). So she went to an actual nursery, and the owner helped her design a garden with the trees, plants and flowers that were appropriate to her character’s locale, changing it through the different seasons (so successfully that many people meeting her for the first time thinks she’s a gardener and want to talk shop).

    As to fiction, there is a wonderful debut novel by M.L. Stedman, “The Light Between Oceans.” If you’re not familiar with it, it takes place in Australia, following WWI. After fighting for four horrific years, Tom returns and tries to heal himself by taking a job as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an island way off the coast of Australia. He eventually marries Isabel, and they are happily living in isolation, with only a supply boat making a trip once every season. Unfortunately, Isabel miscarries twice and then one baby is stillborn. When a boat washes ashore, with a dead man and a baby, Isabel persuades Tom to bury the body and keep the baby as their own. Of course, when they take their first visit back to the mainland (the child is now two), everything starts unraveling… It’s beautifully written, heartbreaking at times, as well as interesting about lighthouses and the landscape of the island.

    I’m glad you mentioned “The Martian Chronicles,” one of my favorites. Another great science fiction book is Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” The landscape of the desert planet Arrakis is integral to the plot, especially since the “spice” mélange mined only there is considered to be the most valuable commodity in the universe, and another theme revolves around the conservation of water, and its rituals, by the Fremen living there (along with those terrifying Sandworms!)

    Here I go again with my weekly comment on Sherlock Holmes, As evocative as the city of London is, the landscape in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is even more so, especially since the mire on Dartmoor in Devon leads to the demise of the villain. And who could forget the waterfall in “The Final Problem”?

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    • Sherlock Holmes can never be mentioned too much, Kat Lib! And, as you say, sometimes the landscape has a VERY direct role in a plot and/or plot resolution.

      I’ve had “Dune” on my to-read list for so long; I really need to get to it. Your excellent description of the landscape in that novel makes me even more interested in reading “Dune”!

      Also, you wrote a fabulous description of “The Light Between Oceans.” It does sound great, and heartbreaking. Definitely now on my list, too.

      Wow — nice information about the commendable way Anne Lamott does her research. One of the marks of an accomplished author. I did enjoy her “Blue Shoe” novel after you recommended Lamott’s writing.

      (I realize I responded to your comment from its last paragraph to its first. 🙂 )

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      • That’s OK, I’m feeling a little backwards myself today.:) I also wanted to mention that in times of stress, my go-to book genre is that of thrillers. Back in December, I was looking for someone new to try and settled on Lisa Scottoline, who writes legal thrillers (mostly) and has a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. I’ve now gone through her entire 13 book series of Rosato & Associates (an all-woman legal firm), as well as most of her standalones. Not great literature, but they are interesting, humorous at times, great characters, and definitely page-turners. The reason I bring them into this discussion is that all of her books are set in Philadelphia and surrounding towns and suburbs, which is where I live and therefore my personal landscape. It’s fun to read about places and streets I know and can easily picture in my head. They are also relatable because I seem to share her politics, and she’s a big animal lover as well. But I only have two more to go, which is a good thing; since my stress level is back to normal, I now can go back to other book genres!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Funny first line, Kat Lib!

          Sounds like you’ve really went to town (and city 🙂 ) with Lisa Scottoline. I’ve never read her, but did hear her talk once at a columnist conference. She was an engaging speaker.

          I know what you mean about reading page-turners (such as thrillers) in a time of stress. Those novels really do get one’s mind absorbed to the point where one (mostly) forgets about everyday life and worries for a few hours. I also know what you mean about liking to read literature set in or near where we live. Things are indeed so recognizable, and we also know firsthand whether or not the author “gets it right.”

          One novel that gave me that experience was Junot Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” — partly set in New Jersey, with mentions of the same university I attended. I also once read a Humphrey Bogart biography that mentioned he dated a woman from my town nearly a century ago.

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          • Dave, I had what was an interesting discussion with my sister tonight. One of the most interesting novels Lisa wrote had to do with the Underground Railroad. There were many tunnels and hiding places for slaves in the southern Chester County area in which we live, but specifically in the Kennett Square area where my sister has lived for a long time. She informed me that there was a Harriet Tubman mural on a building or church coming into Kennett that I either didn’t notice or even reflect on. There’s an organization in Kennett about this subject that includes tours, which I want to explore one of these days. Most intriguing was that among the Quakers and other folks who were involved in this was a couple who had the last name that is the name of my sister’s street in Kennett. She didn’t know if there was any connection, but as someone who had a degree in history, I’m most interested. This also qualifies as landscape in a novel.:}

            Liked by 1 person

            • Fascinating stuff, Kat Lib! Sounds like a great discussion with your sister! And I’m glad Lisa Scottoline included the Underground Railroad in one of her novels.

              That “railroad” also comes up in novels such as Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” Geraldine Brooks’ “March,” and of course Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

              Thanks for the follow-up comment!

              Like

            • First of all, Howdy Neighbor!. I live in Wilmington, DE, just a stone’s through from Kennett Square, PA. I am unfamiliar with the novels of Lisa Scottoline, but look forward to giving them a try! I know that the Underground Railroad had a deep history in our area, but would very much like to read Scottoline’s novel on this subject. Do you have a title?

              Liked by 1 person

    • You win the Internet award for mentioning M.L Stedham. I haven’t come across an Australian author yet who disappoints me. The Light Between Oceans is indeed a wonderful book.

      I understand this was her first published novel. Can’t wait to see what she releases next.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Ana. I’ve been trying to see if she has anything new coming out, but all I could find is that she’s written the screenplay for the movie of “Oceans,” starring Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz (put out by DeamWorks sometime in 2015). Another Australian author, Liane Moriarty, is probably one of my favorite authors out there today and I’ve read all her books twice. Have you read any of hers?

        Liked by 1 person

        • If Michael Fassbender is starring in this film, then I will definitely see it. He was fantastic in Inglourious Basterds. I’m usually not a big fan of Tarantino’s films (one exception being Django Unchained), but Inglourious Basterds was pretty good. Fassbender is a fine actor.

          The author Liane Moriarty escapes me. You always have the best reading lists Kat Lib, so I’m sure you can recommend a couple of good titles for me. I’m going bowling this weekend, but I can pop in a bookstore to see if they have any Moriarty titles in stock. I’m really interested in reading some of her work.

          Liked by 1 person

            • *raises my coffee cup to Dave* I’m rested, recharged, and ready to get into trouble. LOL.

              I forget he was in 12 Years (and wasn’t that also a Tarantino film?) Fassbender is an underrated actor. But maybe that is a good thing because he won’t suffer from overexposure. I’d rather see under the radar great actors (Chadwick Boseman is another example) appear in strong roles here and there rather than see them in every single movie that gets released.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Great that you’re rested and recharged!

                Well, neither of us was naming Fassbender’s entire film history. 🙂 “12 Years a Slave” was directed by Steve McQueen, and, as you know, based on the 1853 book by the kidnapped-into-slavery Solomon Northup. Powerful and devastating movie.

                I’ve heard very good things about Chadwick Boseman (as Jackie Robinson in “42,” etc.), but unfortunately haven’t seen any of his film or TV work yet.

                Like

                • I stand corrected. Saw 12 Years twice. What a movie.

                  Boseman’s reputation is well-earned. I heard that for the James Brown biopic, he refused to use a stand-in or body double while doing Brown’s legendary dance moves. He actually studied James Brown and choreographed the steps himself with the help of a dance teacher. Mick Jagger even gave him props for capturing the authentic style, swagger, groove, and precision that James Brown was known for.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Yes, a VERY memorable movie, Ana. Interesting that an English director rather than an American one made it…

                    That’s right — Chadwick Boseman played James Brown! I’m impressed, from your description, how determinedly and skillfully he threw himself into that role.

                    And getting props from Mick Jagger — nice! Of course, Jagger swiped some of his moves from James Brown… 🙂

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                    • American slavery makes some people uncomfortable. Not surprising that a Brit produced this film.

                      LOL @ your Jagger comment. I think the million dollar question is “who hasn’t stolen from James Brown?”

                      Boseman’s moves aren’t so hot. I did the exact same steps the last time I ate homemade chili doused with jalapenos and red chili peppers. LOL. Try eating something super spicy and see if you won’t do some James Brown moves while your mouth is on fire.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Very true, Ana, about the discomfort many Americans (and Hollywood moguls) feel about slavery. And — LOL — James Brown’s music, moves, etc., have indeed been “appropriated” by many.

                      “Please, Please, Please” patent that hilarious eat-hot-peppers method of dancing like James Brown! 🙂

                      Like

  12. Hey Dave at first glance I thought your theme was landscapers IN Lit which would seem like a nice little challenge . Before I actually read the essay some random candidates for discussion popped into my head ,first off the end of perhaps the first truly great short story has Dr. Pangloss and his student Candide preparing to cultivate their garden, imagine the wit and fury Voltaire would be hurling at the enemies of free expression were he still among the French people today. The next two were ones I’d have asked for a ruling on, were the Ents the greatest landscapers of Middle Earth or do they count as herders? Secondly if gardeners count as landscapers is there any more memorable than Dame Christie’s Jane Marple ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Loved your take on this subject, Donny!

      A mention of Voltaire is VERY welcome. “Candide” is indeed a terrific and witty book, and totally readable. Even people who aren’t fans of 18th-century literature might consider trying it. And, yes, it would be amazing to see what Voltaire would satirically say in today’s France.

      Two great questions at the end of your comment. Not an answer, but one of the things I love about the Ents is how slowly Tolkien has them talk and think. Those tree creatures might not make good bloggers. 🙂

      Last but not least, thanks again for recommending Cormac McCarthy’s “Suttree” a couple of years ago. Superb novel.

      Like

  13. Thanks Dave for mentioning “The Marble Faun” – I vaguely remembered reading it when I was about 13, and years later I wanted to read it again but could not recall the author or the title. Now I can put to good use my Christmas gift cards. 😀
    Landscape is so important to mood, in novels as well as in real life. The snowy landscape where I now live is really a downer. I read Jack London’s “Tale of Hawaii” when I was a young teen, and I never forgot his description of the islands; that book led me to find my way there by the time I reached middle age, and spent ten happy sunny years loving the turquoise ocean and the scent of jasmine and frangipani.
    Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” contains magical descriptions of a young boy’s summer in the country – when I read it the first time I was enchanted by the way the words evoked the warm scent of the grass and wild flowers, I could see the QueenAnne’s lace swaying in the breeze, hear the buzzing of the insects. It brought back the joy I felt as a child when I spent the summer outside the city, free to roam fields and woods and orchards, to pick and eat a sun-warm tomato, enjoying a world full of scents and colors and beauty. His “Martian Chronicles” is also one of my favorite novels, I could “feel” the Martian landscape around me. I think of these two novels as prose poems, at least parts of them.
    Over the years I read so many books set in London that I felt as I knew the city; among them, Orwells “1984”, Huxley’s “Brave New World”, the Sherlock Holmes novels, the “Rumpole of the Bailey” novels where London is really a protagonist in the story; so of course I had to go see it , and loved it.
    Perhaps the novel where the landscape is really the main element of a novel is Georges Rodenbach’s “Bruges-La-Morte”, [ “The dead City of Bruges”], where the main character, Hugues Viane, is depressed after his wife dies, and eventually becomes obsessed with another woman who looks like his dead wife. The city is described in detail, in fact the novel contained several photographs of Bruges [at least in the edition I had, now long-lost] to illustrate the places where Hugues goes, all somber, sad, depressing places that reflect his own state of mind. I have always wondered if that city is really that bleak

    Liked by 1 person

    • A Christmas gift card turned into a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel — I love that, Clairdelune! 🙂

      “The Marble Faun” is fascinating — Hawthorne’s last novel, and the only one not set in New England. I guess he was really taken with Europe and especially Italy when he lived there after being named American consul in Liverpool by his former college pal President Franklin Pierce.

      Spending a decade in Hawaii — how wonderful! Definitely some advantages over snowy climes. “…the turquoise ocean and the scent of jasmine and frangipani” — that sounds REALLY nice. Have you ever read David Lodge’s “Paradise News,” about an Englishman in Hawaii? A very good novel.

      Thanks for mentioning Ray Bradbury, and for those eloquent words about “Dandelion Wine” — which I enjoyed recently thanks to your recommendation. I’ve rarely encountered a more nostalgic book.

      The London landscape is indeed so memorable in many novels — such as the ones you aptly mentioned, and of course in the works of Dickens. Even Sir Walter Scott, who as you know mostly set his work in his native Scotland — managed to include London in part of his great “The Heart of Midlothian.”

      “Bruges-La-Morte” sounds like quite an interesting, melancholy novel. I’ve been to Brussels and Ghent, but never quite made it to Bruges.

      Thanks for the terrific comment!

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  14. Landscaping, along with setting, can be everything in novels. Mountains, and high locations, often reveal a solemn or religious aspect, while prairies and plains portray vastness, with unending possibilities. In “Huck Finn”, the river was solemn, majestic and grand, requiring respect and admiration, while towns and land were associated with dirt, mud, and of course, dishonesty.

    But while landscapes can be vast, they were never too far-off for the sake of plot. Elizabeth walked two miles to Nethertfield to visit her sick sister in “Pride and Prejudice.” Also, in that novel, the houses always became grander and more impressive moving from the Bennett estate to Netherfield, eventually getting to Pemberley, possibly denoting a rise in character for some, and vice versa for others.

    Working in undeveloped areas, requires grit, determination, and perseverance which “The Grapes of Wrath” underlie.Over cultivated properties such as Versailles might betray hidden negative behavior as in the goings on behind “The Three Musketeer” saga, and all novels associated with the occupants of Versailles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eloquent, sweeping comment, Eric! Thanks!

      Among the highlights was your contrast of the river and what was ashore in “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Great observation! And those estate landscapes in some Jane Austen novels were often memorable, and had something to say about wealth and the income gap.

      Your mention of “The Three Musketeers” reminded me of the forbidding landscape of the prison island of If in Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Of course, prisoner Edmond Dantes never got more than brief glimpses of the outside part of that island. 😦

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      • David, that comment reminds me of all the novels that had water or oceans as a principle setting in which the characters were always contrasted by the inner confines of ships and galleys with the great expanse of oceans, or confined to a small island which contrasts with the world around them in which the plot plays out. From “Moby Dick” to “The Hunt for Red October”, from “The Hornblower” sagas to “Sink the Bismark” and from “Mutiny on the Bounty” to ‘Robinson Crusoe”. I am not sure why I just wrote those “from…to” things, I lost my train of thought for a second as the rush of ocean novels is coming back to me like a wave

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very true, Eric, with a nicely droll last line! There are definitely severe contrasts in ship novels and in island novels.

          In addition to the titles you aptly mentioned, there are other Melville works such as “Omoo,” “Redburn,” “White-Jacket,” “Benito Cereno,” and “Billy Budd”; Poe’s “The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym,” “MS Found in a Bottle,” and “A Descent into the Maelstrom”; Jack London’s “The Sea-Wolf”; etc. Parts of James Clavell’s “Shogun,” too.

          While oceans and islands are not involved, there are also parts of George Eliot’s “Daniel Deronda” and “The Mill on the Floss” with major water elements. (Actually, England is an island. 🙂 )

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  15. Dave! YES! Lee’ Child’s “61 Hours.” Loved it! He paints with words, and whenever I think of winter and the Midwest, that book comes to mind. Great post – I feel as if I’ve experienced nature just be reading it!! And that will do for winter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That IS an excellent novel, Cathy, and I also feel cold just thinking about it. Jack Reacher is an intriguing, terse character, and Plato in “61 Hours” is a SCARY villain. Some good and bad police guys add to the intrigue.

      Thanks for the great comment, and for the kind words!

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      • I suppose I am now going to have to finally read a Reacher novel. One of my brothers has had a used book business for many years, on-line, specializing in mysteries. and has said that the only new books he buys are the new Lee Child books.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The wandering Jack Reacher character does seem to have MANY loyal fans, Kat Lib, and your brother sounds like one of them.

          Crime thrillers are not a genre I read a lot of, but “61 Hours” kept my interest enough where I will read another Reacher novel or two this winter.

          But after reading four crime thrillers almost consecutively (“61 Hours” and Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy), I will make sure to diversify my reading by taking out a couple of 19th-century classics when I go to the library this weekend. 🙂

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    • Morning Dave..oh you read “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith a great read ? I did buy the book then and still have it. There was a BBC series on that.
      And Jack Reacher….just as JhNY said in your previous post…I can`t stay away from ” Lee Child” Reacher the ” no greed, no posession ” who dedicates his life helping others and beat the bad guys to a pulp.

      I had our houseful for several days…it was fantastic and now taking moments catching up with my usual chores.

      Another thought provoking post Dave :).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good morning, bebe!

        Unfortunately, I haven’t read “White Teeth” yet, but would definitely like to. I’m currently almost halfway into Zadie Smith’s “On Beauty,” and it’s wonderful. The people seem so real, Smith has a real pulse on multicultural life, and the writing is excellent and at times hilarious. I’ve heard “White Teeth” is even better, so it must be fantastic.

        You offered a terrific description of Jack Reacher. That’s him — not greedy, no possessions, helps others, beats some bad guys to a pulp! Thanks again for recommending Lee Child’s books; I will definitely read more.

        Sounds like you had a busy and fun few days. Good luck with your catching up. And thanks for the kind words about the column! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Dave…oh..that`s the only book I`v read long ago and I don`t even remember the details of it. ” On Beauty” sounds interesting I`ll look for it then.
          Have a good evening..;)

          Liked by 1 person

          • And I will read “White Teeth” when I can. 🙂 Zadie Smith is a VERY engaging author — her writing is so lively. And “White Teeth” came out when she was 25, and “On Beauty” when she was 30. Impressive to be so good when so young.

            Have a good evening, too, bebe!

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            • Hi Dave..the thread hit the wall above ” Worth Dying For” have read…I have a feeling you are hooked on “Reacher” . ” Grey Mountain” I picked up where I left off, loving it.

              I am sure you read this..tomorrow is Dr. Kings Holiday and Mr. Dowd`s column.
              http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/opinion/sunday/not-just-a-movie.html
              It was interesting read..but denying LBJ`s contribution was sad and took something away from a supposedly powerful movie.

              Last night watched ” Hundred Foot Journey” entirely different and thoroughly enjoyable and if you like Helen Mirren you would love watching it.

              Another landscape but I have not read the book and now I am tempted to look for the book.

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              • bebe, I have a feeling that you’re correct about me being hooked on Reacher. 🙂 I’m further into “Worth Dying For,” and it’s even more gripping than the page-turning “61 Hours.”

                Glad you’re enjoying your latest John Grisham experience!

                Thanks for the link! I just read it, and am wondering if the LBJ stuff is one reason why the much-admired “Selma” didn’t get more Oscar nominations. I could definitely see what the director was saying about trying to avoid yet another “white savior” kind of civil-rights movie, but if some facts are wrong it’s unfortunate.

                Helen Mirren IS a great actress!

                Liked by 1 person

                • I agree with you completely…the host of another pace just posted his opinion to me.
                  Why talented people could not resist the desire to chage the facts. Last Sunday in another show can`t remember if it was Schiffer…opened up the fact to the watchers with taped conversation between Dr. King and LBJ.

                  The other movie you would love to watch with your wife, mostly the landscape was in France and Mirren was a French head of a Restaurant with one star trying to go for two stars and initially was a meddling busy body with an attitude, That`s all I am telling 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Thanks, bebe, for avoiding “spoilers” with the Helen Mirren movie. And you piqued my interest in that film. 🙂

                    I still want to see “Selma” — and it’s certainly not alone in changing facts. There was some controversy with “Lincoln,” too; I forget the details, but I think the movie got something wrong connected with an actual vote.

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                    • I did not see Lincoln and am not sure if I will see “SELMA” I might. I understand acting was superb…the actor is young will get another chance I am sure. Oscar have a strange way of nomination but in IMHO not every selection is racially motivated.

                      Oh BTW…H F Journey was produced by power duo Oprah and Spielberg.:)

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I didn’t see “Lincoln,” either; I just read about it. And, like you, I’m not totally sure I’ll see “Selma” in a movie theater, but I might see it later on.

                      You’re right, bebe, about the Oscar process being kind of strange. So many of the voters are older white men, some of whom may or may not be racist but many of whom seem to have cautious and conventional tastes.

                      Oprah and Spielberg are indeed a power duo!!!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That`s the way it goes Dave…Meryl Streep is one of the great actress of all times but I read the one she was nominated for is not one of her best. Oh well..like you I am not much of a movie watcher and the theaters being a bit distance I watch the DVD`s.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • More relaxing to watch movies at home, bebe, and less expensive. 🙂

                      Meryl Streep has been nominated for an Oscar a record 19 times, I believe. I haven’t seen “Into the Woods.” It got a decent but not great 71% on the Rotten Tomatoes site.

                      Like

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