Book Review: Footsteps

The New York Times: Footsteps

As a travel blogger, I completely understand how a place can shape a person’s writing. It’s why I write about travel; because places move and inspire me. The same obviously holds true for the authors studied in this book. Having another writer “walk a mile in their shoes” is such an intriguing look at what the authors may have felt and experienced while living in a place.

I’ve done that myself once. I traveled to Monroeville, Alabama and walked the abandoned streets where Harper Lee and Truman Capote spent their hot, summer childhoods. I sat in the spot where their tree house stood (or as close to it as I could get) and imagined the view of small town life from there. The slow-moving rhythm of the Deep South and the prejudices and beliefs of the people who lived there.

This book includes chapters on Nabrokov, the Brothers Grimm, Hemingway in Madrid, Fitzgerald in France, and Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul, among others.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading what other writers had to say about the places these illustrious writers brought to life in their works. One of my favorite chapters was on Bram Stoker’s time spent in a seaside town in England while writing Dracula. He began writing his supernatural novel there; not in Transylvania where the novel is set. In fact, according to this chapter in the book, he never traveled further east than Vienna!

I also enjoyed the chapter on Flannery O’Connor’s Milledgeville, Georgia. She grew up on a farm on the outskirts of this town and set her story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” there. I don’t remember the setting being that pivotal in the story; I feel like it could have occured anywhere, but I’ve been to Milledgeville. My son attended the military college there. And now that I know that’s O’Connor territory, I’d like to go back and explore a little more.

I am hoping that someday someone comes to greater Cincinnati to trace my footsteps. I’m sure my Midwestern locale is a prominent feature in most of my writing. If I ever achieve literary renown, you’ll definitely want to make a pilgrimage here. 😉
Which author’s footsteps would you like to trace?

7 responses to “Book Review: Footsteps

  1. I’d go for my Great Uncle, Edison Marshall, Juliann. Edison had a prolific career between the 1920s and 50s writing historical fiction. And he always liked to visit the places he was writing about. I had an old set of his Encyclopedia Britannica’s where he had traced his travels in the atlas. It gave me a taste for travel and adventure that never left me. Seven of his books were turned into movies. –Curt

  2. I’ve done a little Thomas Hardy stalking, around England’s West Country. Stayed at the Kings Arms in Dorchester, the ‘Casterbridge’ of the novel. Did you know that a cat ate Hardy’s heart 🙂

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