Books set in *Your* Locale

As a Canadian, I get pretty excited when I come across a book that not only mentions Canada, but is set in a Canadian city, and get damned near ecstatic when it’s set in Western Canada. I don’t know if you United Statesians realize this, but most books are set in the U.S., and people reading them outside of the U.S. notice it. Not to turn this into a big U.S. bashfest; that’s just the way it is right now, for many good reasons.

How about the rest of you? Do you notice things like this? Do you get as excited as I do when a book is set locally?

Science fiction author Michael Flynn is from the next town over from where I grew up. Most of his books are in the near future and there are some mentions of the local area. I got excited when one of his books opened with someone looking at the giant lightbulb tower monument in Edison NJ.

Once I started reading a book by Harold Coyle which opened in the training area of Ford Hood, TX. Each chapter began with the location of the chapter. Chapter 1 was labeled “Manning Mountain, Fort Hood”. At the time I was in a tent about 100 meters from Manning Mountain. (not really a mountain, just a hill)

When I was at college I read Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff, who is an alum of my college and the book is set there. I didn’t really love the book, but at one point a major character on a motorcycle is being chased by a truck that tried to run him off the road and I was very anxious because I knew a big curve was coming up that he wouldn’t be able to make at his speed. (He didn’t.)


Science fiction author Lee Killough wrote three books, cop novels, set about 70-80 years in the future from when they were written.

They are Doppelganger Gambit, Dragon’s Teeth, and Spider Play. The books are set in Topeka, Kansas, my home. It’s fun to see the way she extrapolated society and local government. Anyone could read and enjoy them, but there are lots of details and little in jokes that make them especially enjoyable for Topekans.

featherlou, I have yet to read any fiction set in my locale (small town Iowa), but I get excited about books set in Canada too.

I’ve been reading a lot of Canadian writers lately, and some of the settings feel like Iowa – small townish and empty, maybe a bit bleak. I love Margaret Laurence’s Manawaka books.

featherlou, have you found any good Calgary fiction? (apart from the little book Ralph’s people left on my porch :wink: )

I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read set where I grew up (San Diego and San Francisco Bay Area). Mysteries are good for that because the sleuth usually has to visit several different parts of town.

I also like reading about locales I’ve visited. Even when I read the complete set of Sherlock Holmes stories I had my big old London map at my side to trace along where they went.

AuntiePam, how about WP Kinsella? There’s a good Iowa/Alberta connection for you. But it helps if you like baseball.

I read Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry series years ago. I choose to sit on a park bench with a Greg’s ice cream on the south side of Bloor Street, here in Toronto. The first book begins at the University of Toronto, just south of where I was sitting. And then they walk up Philosopher’s Walk to Bloor Street. Which is exactly where I was sitting. Freaky.

Tanya Huff and Robert J. Sawyer used to work at Bakka Books (a speculative fiction store here), and a lot of Huff’s books are set here. I haven’t read all of Sawyer’s books, so I don’t know about his. I’m sure I’ll think of more.

I buy Kinsella for my baseball freak son but haven’t read him myself. Didn’t know about the connection, thanks. :slight_smile:

MicroSerfs - ser in the same company, same general area. I can see the places as i read it.

I grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, the same place that Poppy Z Brite grew up. So a lot of the scenery in books like Lost Souls was pretty familiar to me.

As was a plot clue. This is a pretty minor spoiler for an obscure book, so I’m not gonna use spoiler tags, just this warning. You’re warned.

At some point in the book, a character finds a clue that says, “WAX JISM.” He has no idea what it means until almost too late–but I knew immediately what it was.

See, in high school I called one of my friends, and his answering machine said, “You have reached WAX THIN. Please leave a message.” I was bewildered until he told me that WAX THIN was his phone number: 929-8446.

WAX JISM, of course, is another local phone number.

Yay for local knowledge, eh?

Tom Robbins “Another Roadside Attraction” is set in Skagit County, the Northwesern part of the Washington State where I grew up. It’s always fun to read about Sedro Woolley in a book. Kerouac gives it a quick mention in a couple of his as well.

Towards the end of one of James Patterson’s thrillers, the killer is on the run and flies to Newark Airport. He travels down to my area, kills someone in front of one of my favorite shore bars (leaving the body sitting on a lifeguard stand), heads inland, and drives through my neighborhood before hopping on the Garden State Parkway.

While it was cool as hell to read that, Patterson ticked me off by getting the name of my town wrong. It’s “Brick”, damnit, not “Brick Town”. It’s hasn’t been “Bricktown” since 1950, and it’s never been “Brick Town”.

Sorry…I have an odd hangup about that.

Hal I always understood there was both.

If the map doesn’t show Bricktown zoom in.

Not a book really buy Mike Mignola added a few pages to one of his Hellboy comics in the trade paperback that mentioned the local lake monster Ogopogo and the Okanagan lake.

That’s funny, because the second part of that book, after they leave Redmond, takes place in a part of Silicon Valley maybe 3 minutes from my high school. I attended many ragers at the big houses there (well, at least one that I remember) and could easily picture those scenes as I read it.

Again eliminating any reason for my wife to post, Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegone is based on the area around her home town in Minnesota.

I had much the same reaction when I started reading the series. I was also a student at the University of Toronto at the time, and it was indeed freaky.

For my own contribution to the OP, I’ll offer my experience driving on certain roads in the state of Maine. I remember thinking that the route numbers and such seemed awfully familiar, even though I had never been on them before.

Then I realized I was on the same roads that were mentioned in Richard Bachman’s (that is, Stephen King’s) The Long Walk, which I had been reading at about the same time as I was on that trip. Made it much easier to picture the events that were taking place in the book, and I sure felt for those kids in the race, dealing with some of those hills.

featherlou, have you read any Robertson Davies? I read a few of his books several years ago and recall that they were set in Canada.

Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys take place in the neighborhoods around the Carnegie-Mellon and Pitt campuses. I hung out there and went to Pitt about five years before Chabon was there, so there were a lot of familiar scenes and locales. I was glad to see in the movie * Wonder Boys* that they filmed in the same areas.

Drat, Cerowyn, I was going to mention Tanya Huff. Her Keeper series is set partly in Toronto and partly in Kingston, and the vampire series is mostly in downtown Toronto. I figured out which building on Bloor Henry Fitzroy was supposed to live in. Nifty attention to detail.

Some of Charles De Lint’s books are set in Ottawa. Moonheart and Spiritwalk, I think.

In Tad Williams’ Otherland series, there are weird news bulletins at the beginning of every chapter. One f them’s about a “Suicide As Art” death that happens about a kilometer from where I am now. A Suicide Artist steps out onto Coxwell Avenue at rush hour.