Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tossing around some geo-terms

I've been reading The Nightingales of Troy, by Alice Fulton, whose poetry I've enjoyed. I first found it in The New Yorker, and, just as with poetry and other writings of Joyce Carol Oates, I recognized certain references to particular places. The book came from the library, using my borrower card for the first time in over a year. The reasons why I hadn't been using it won't be discussed right here, right now, but I intend to write a long letter to pertinent people when full library-related serenity returns. Anyhow, I find this collection of linked short stories to be a bit disappointing. They're somewhat mannered and treat certain people, sayings, ways of making a living, etc., as "exotic." There are also lots of internal inconsistencies. An example is that, on one occasion, an orphanage is referred to by a fake name and, on another, by its true name. A building that existed for a century and a half or so is called by its true name, but a long-time ground-floor business in that building is given a pseudonym. Examples of mentions include St. Colman's, the 'Burgh, the Sunset, Herman Melville's house, Frear's (without an apostrophe), Freihofer's horse-drawn delivery wagons, Lord & Tann, Watervliet, the Phoenix Hotel, and the Puritan. Richard Russo covered nearby territory in a much more authentic and revealing way in Mohawk and Nobody's Fool.


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