Thursday 5 May 2011

What to read where

This is a follow up of this post. I thought about it quite a lot, and a recent post by Leigh Russell got me thinking about it again (and by the way Leigh enjoy your time in the Midi). As I said pretty often here I am a seasonal reader, I read according to the time of the year (horror stories before Halloween, novels set in a heatwave if I am in the middle of one, etc). Maybe I should be, sometimes, a "setting" reader. I thought about it a lot: one understands a country better through its literature. So here is a list of authors or titles I would read, or recommend to read, when I/one visits a place, or travels to a place (disclaimer: I did not visit all these places):

 -Chicoutimi: The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi. Well, duh!
-Japan: something by Yukio Mishima. Read one novel of him, in cégep. If I ever go to Japan, I will pick up one of Mishima's work.
-Florence: Machiavel, in the text if I can, or with a translation on the side.
-Los Angeles: Raymond Chandler, definitely.
-Oxfordshire: Something by Tolkien. You visit the English countryside and you see the Shire, like my dad remarked recently.
-Rome: I would probably reread Bear's Roman Women. I know, I know. I am shamelessly plugging Burgess again. But it is such a great read. I would probably try to read some Italian poets, in the text. I would ask an Italian friend to give me a few tips. Not Dante, I got fed up with him.
-South Africa: something by Deon Meyer. I only read Dead at Daybreak, basically a crime novel about the ghosts of Apartheid, but I want to read more of this author. My mum made me discover this one. It has been too long.
-Train journeys (especially long ones): No, not this one! If you read French, try this one. Tonino Benacquista is sadly not very well known outside the French speaking world. A shame.
-Sea journeys, or beach holidays: Moby Dick or Treasure Island. Just because.


Cynthia said...

No suggestion for Paris?

Guillaume said...

No suggestion for Paris, maybe because I don't feel such a strong bond with the city (or interest in it). But there are so many novels set in Paris, the one of yesterday or today, there are so many to pic: Le Fantôme de l'Opéra before Halloween, preferably read close to l'Opéra Garnier, Notre Dame de Paris (preferably read close to...), something from Benacquista (again!), etc.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful idea! What better way to discover a country than by reading works by the native writers of that country. Guide books 'pretty up' a place, and fiction so often strips a country of it's flesh exposing the bones, and the bare truths about a place. It's the reason so many authors in non democratic nations seek sanctuary elsewhere. Artists, and writers are a politician's worst nightmare.