Thursday, April 22, 2010

City as Characters

I have been reading a lot lately - none of it very literary but all of it fun. Primarily I have been on Agatha Christie, Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell and today Peter Corris, although there is a few others thrown in as well.

What amazes me, and it probably shouldn't given the amount of English Lit I have done over my life, is how the city is an actual character in these books. Okay Cornwell obviously sets her books in Richmond, Virginia but it is more of a location than a character so lets set that aside.

Christie uses England with all of its class structure and mansions and protocols as a character more than the landscape. But is it a tool or a structure? I think there are arguments for both sides. Could her books be set anywhere else - say in in Australia with an Australian cast - no way - England and the English are intrinsic.

With Kellerman and Corris their cities - Los Angeles and Sydney respectively - are living, breathing characters as large as life as Alex Delaware and Cliff Hardy. You could drive the roads they drive, breathe the air they breathe, their books would be lesser if there were any other location.

I contemplate that in the context that as soon as I got to WA I felt like it was my land and I was a part of it. Will I feel the same about any other landscape if I spent 30 odd years there - I am not sure, it would influence me for sure but I am not sure it would "be" me in the same way at WA is. It has got nothing to do with moving back, that isn't going to happen, but WA is a part of my cellular being.

I think it is the same with Kellerman and Corris. Where is this heading? I haven't decided yet. Does it mean anything? I have no idea. I would like to follow the thought trough though.

1 comment:

pita-woman said...

Love Kellerman!, never could get into Cornwell, read a couple, but had to force myself.
Along the lines of the cities being characters...
I love historical romance & love Kathleen Woodiwiss. Many of her stories take place in Charleston, SC, and when we went on vacation there a few years ago, even though it was 300 years later, many of the street names and whatnot still have the same name, it was like visiting an old friend.