My Home Town

If you had to make a snap judgment -- immediately, without being given any time to think -- what ONE book do you most associate with your home town?

("Home town" meaning not merely a place in which you happen to live, or have lived -- for however long or short a period -- but a place that actually had a certain impact on you and "molded" you in some fashion or other, or where you'd say you don't happen to merely currently be "FROM" but "OF" that place; or a place where you feel you "BELONG" -- emotionally/intellectually, in whatever way that exceeds a merely physical residence, or the place where you happen to work. If this definition applies to more than one place, that's fine. Just please keep it to one book per city/town ...)

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67 books · 35 voters · list created February 2nd, 2010 by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (votes) .
2 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) 546 books
471 friends
Bettie 15450 books
120 friends
Reese 1098 books
123 friends
Thom 6023 books
308 friends
reina 67 books
9 friends
Lobstergirl 4613 books
155 friends
Stephen 688 books
71 friends
Phillip 4693 books
135 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)

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message 1: by Bettie (last edited Feb 02, 2010 04:36AM) (new)

Bettie Hello there
:O))))

Picked Nell Gwynne because she used to shag step out with her Charlie in Epsom where I grew up.

I picked Alexander Cordell because I lived in the Eastern Valley for 25 years and pick Åke Edwardsson's Inspector Winter because the stories are based in Gothenburg, our nearest town now.

ETA - work commitments meant I lived 2 years in Hyde when Shipman was our local doctor *gasp*, and a year in Newcastle-upon-Tyne meant I became interested in Cookson. I could easily have popped the Lindisfarne Illuminated Text in there but you have stipulated just one book from each venue and I think that works just dandy.

No more the gypsy - I'm rather at home now.

ETA again! hahahah.

I'm adding the Highgate thing because I was living in there when this freak was operating - used to walk past his house on my way to shop at Waitrose's Muswell Hill *double gasp*. Highgate was where I started out married life - a venue tucked in between Surrey and Gwent. Hmmm - my first pied a terre was in Earls Court - p'raps I should stuff in Hangover Square too.




message 2: by Reese (new)

Reese excellent topic & clear explanation of selection criteria


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) ... and very interesting and illuminating contributions so far -- thank you both! :)

Sheesh. And I thought I was a bit of Gypsy ...

So how does it feel to have escaped a brush with a mass murderer not once but (gasp indeed) twice, Bettie?

And "Godot" for Roussillion, Reese -- or Ireland?


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Oh and, btw, to explain my own choices:

Böll, "The Clown," for Bonn, where I grew up, went to high school and university, and where I returned a few years ago (whether for good, though, remains to be seen).

Remarque's "Three Comrades," for Berlin, where I was born, repeatedly returned to visit while growing up, and where I lived for 10 years as an adult, also concluding my professional training and holding my first job there. (I'm actually very much torn about what book to choose for Berlin, as there are several that come to my mind with equal persistence -- some the others being, for example, Isherwood's "Berlin Stories," Vicki Baum's "Grand Hotel," and the Murphy/Kondrashev/Bailey collaboration "Battleground Berlin" -- but I'm going to stick to my own rules here and leave it at one single book. So Remarque it is.)

Chandler's "Big Sleep" for Los Angeles, CA, a city with which I (as instantly as improbably, but literally at first sight) fell in love when living and working there for a few months in the early 1990s, and where I returned -- this time, for several years -- in 2000.

Storm's "Dykemaster" for the German North Sea coast, where we often went when I was a child, and where I first learned to love wide, open skies, a distant horizon, and the power, infinity, and smell of the sea (the rougher the better, never mind a propensity for sea sickness). (Yes, alright, this one on the face of it may be a bit of a stretch, but those visits up north really DID have a profound impact on me; much more so than some of the places I actually lived in -- and to this day, I can't leave my beloved island of Föhr without choking down tears, no matter how brief or extended my visit may have been.)

And finally, Matt Ruff's "Fool on the Hill" for Cornell (and in a broader sense, Ithaca, NY), where I spent the most packed, exhilarating, informative, and downright crazy time of my entire university education (both in the U.S. and Germany).

I've lived in quite a few other places as well, but for one reason or another, neither of them impacted me as much as the five places mentioned above. Then again, there are those cities that I've visited a number of times and where I am sure I'd quickly feel at home IF I ever had occasion to move there, but so far (alas) the occasion has not (yet?) arisen!


message 5: by Bettie (new)

Bettie It's lovely hearing the stories of others - rounds out the personality where normally interweb folk seem to lie pretty much in the one dimension.

:O)


message 6: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Austin wrote: "I like the distinction between being "of" a place rather than just "from" it. That's great. I've lived in New Haven, Ann Arbor, Baltimore, and have been in New York for more than a decade, but th..."
The heart of rock and roll !



message 7: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Themis-Athena wrote: "Oh and, btw, to explain my own choices:

Böll, "The Clown," for Bonn, where I grew up, went to high school and university, and where I returned a few years ago (whether for good, though, remains to..."


I've put down 12 titles, not to be outdone by your 5, but doubt I'm anywhere near as travelled as you despite my age. Hope this doesn't seem greedy or pretentious.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) No, it doesn't -- and I like the explanations you're giving for each of them in the comments section. (Nice to find out this way, incidentally, that comments on individual votes DO show up after all ... at least if you click on the link for a given book's votes!)

I was sorely tempted to also include entries for Paris and London, btw. Ultimately decided against it, though, because so far I only know (and love) both places as a visitor, not as a resident (unless you'd count two one-month stays in Paris as "residence" -- I do feel it takes a bit more than that, though).


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Austin wrote: "I like the distinction between being "of" a place rather than just "from" it. That's great. I've lived in New Haven, Ann Arbor, Baltimore, and have been in New York for more than a decade, but th..."

In terms of general spirit, this sounds very much like what you hear from folks living in Michigan, actually ... particularly in the Detroit, Flint, and Lansing areas. (No wonder, probably, with the auto industry being what it is -- and not only recently!) The Cleveland movie references had never occurred to me, though ... very interesting! I DOES make you wonder, doesn't it?


message 10: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Themis-Athena wrote: "Austin wrote: "I like the distinction between being "of" a place rather than just "from" it. That's great. I've lived in New Haven, Ann Arbor, Baltimore, and have been in New York for more than a..."

CLEVELAND AS A PUNCHLINE. In the Dustin Hoffman movie, Tootsie, when "She" appears on camera for the first time, director tells the cameraman to move back a bit.....His reply, "How do you feel about Cleveland ?"


message 11: by Reese (new)

Reese Paying more attention to T-A's expanded definition of "home town" than to actual cities/towns, I listed works that I associate with certain experiences and states of mind. As I voted, I was recalling, "The mind is its own place."

WAITING FOR GODOT: I do believe that I live in the absurd universe that Beckett depicts. Otherwise, I cannot claim to have lived in the places that are the settings of the works that I selected. But I have been "where the protagonists are or have been."

"The Beast in the Jungle": John Marcher's mind is the "home town" of the beast of fearfully watching and waiting for LIFE to happen.

THE CENTAUR: George Caldwell, a teacher, manages to endure life in a "compromised environment" as "a paid keeper of Society's unusables -- the lame, the halt, the insane, and the ignorant." I'm quite familiar with that world.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA: In my early fifties (not the 1950s), my work life was ruled by a maniacal male version of Miranda Priestly. Not living in NYC, I was, nevertheless, Andrea Sachs. The Devil, like God, can be anywhere. I should add that, if I wanted to sell my soul, I would sell it to Broadway. So in a sense, NYC is the home where I never lived.

Thank you, T-A, for starting a list that has prompted the voters to post some very interesting comments. Reese




message 12: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Austin wrote: "Themis-Athena wrote: "Austin wrote: "I like the distinction between being "of" a place rather than just "from" it. That's great. I've lived in New Haven, Ann Arbor, Baltimore, and have been in Ne..."

Doesn't Shel Silverstein have a riff somewhere about "There is no God , there is no Easter Bunny, there is not Santa Claus...Oh, well.....MAYBE SOMEDAY YOU CAN GO TO DETROIT." ?


message 13: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Feb 02, 2010 04:48PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads To Kill a Mockingbird really reminds me of the town my grandparents lived in, in a lot of ways.

I spent a lot of time there growing up.

Moo reminds me of my time at Clemson University.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Rdbot (Reese) wrote: "Paying more attention to T-A's expanded definition of "home town" than to actual cities/towns, I listed works that I associate with certain experiences and states of mind. As I voted, I was recall..."

All right, Reese, you did it. :) "The mind is its own place" indeed -- and in that spirit, I ended up yet another book, Luther's "Freedom of a Christian."

Thomas Mann, judging by what he wrote on the subject in "Dr. Faustus," probably would comment that merely by virtue of being German I'd have come around to Luther (and Goethe, Mephisto and Auerbachs Keller, for that matter) eventually anyway, but I do actually have an indirect residential claim on Thuringia (and more specifically, on the Erfurt/Eisenach/Mühlhausen area) at least, in that my mother and her siblings grew up there, and it's far and away the place that most profoundly affected THEM -- and they all passed on a good bit of that to their children in turn. In the hallway of my grandparents' apartment, there used to be an enlarged photo of the brewery my grandmother's family used to own in a little town between Eisenach and Mühlhausen; and if you'd asked me where "our family" was from when I was little, I'd have pointed to that photo without the slightest hesitation every single time -- even though I'd never actually been to the place myself, and would only get an opportunity to see it with my own eyes in early 1990 after "the Wall" had come down. (And a mighty strange feeling it was, too.)

That all being said, though, I think philosophically I'd have gravitated towards Luther eventually anyway, even without the slightest personal link to Thuringia ... (thus far, then, also proving right Mr. Mann, who not without reason is one of my favorite authors.)


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Austin wrote: "Thom wrote: "Themis-Athena wrote: "Austin wrote: "I like the distinction between being "of" a place rather than just "from" it. That's great. I've lived in New Haven, Ann Arbor, Baltimore, and ha..."

Oh yes, "Spinal Tap" -- there are so many great moments in that movie one tends to forget individual ones, so thanks for reminding me of the Cleveland reference!

As for Detroit (and that entire part of Michigan, for that matter), are us foreigners and watchers of CNN International the only ones to have been graced, a few years back, with those commercials -- sponsored by Toyota, of all companies! -- on Michigan's great economic and investment opportunities? This was at a time when there was already plenty of rust accumulating in the Flint area in particular, and I always wondered how a series of TV spots would have gone down locally that showed some state representative (though not the governor, if I recall correctly) alongside a spokesman for Toyota Motor Co. talking about Michigan's unique strategic economic advantages ...


message 16: by Reese (new)

Reese T-A,

You have visited and resided in more places than I can imagine seeing -- even if magic or a miracle turned me into a cat with nine lives. And your knowledge of literature and languages amazes me. Since you are able to list pages of "home town" books without even considering places to which your mind feels connected, I appreciate your decision to add and explain a work that includes a home town located on the map of the mind. I now feel more like a peninsula than an island.

BTW, your family history is fascinating.

Thanks, Reese




message 17: by Bettie (last edited Feb 03, 2010 12:14PM) (new)

Bettie This list becomes even more alluring if we add books that reflect our spiritual home as well - neat.

It will necessitate some pondering though...

LATER ... here is a good indication Wildwood A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin


message 18: by Reese (last edited Feb 03, 2010 04:33PM) (new)

Reese I decided to add Frank Rich's memoir, GHOST LIGHT, so that one of the five books on my list would indicate at least a thin connection between me and an actual city. Rich grew up in the Washington, DC, area; and during my adolescence & early adulthood, DC was "MY PLACE." I began my undergraduate education there; my decision to transfer to a different university after one semester did not mean that I had stopped loving DC. While my husband was in law school, he worked in DC for one summer, so I had an opportunity to enjoy another three months of life in DC. I still find Washington a magnificent city, and recalling my experiences there is sweet.

Of course, my love of the theatre also makes adding Rich's memoir a spirit-related choice.


message 19: by Reese (new)

Reese An early experience is the little deposit that goes a long way. A whopping withdrawal or loads of little ones seldom close the account. Add the Lincoln Memorial and the other grand representations and repositories of the hopes and ideals of millions; and what is "wrong with us" -- be it illness, insensitivity, ignorance -- somehow seems small.

Accurate or not, I have a very vivid image in my head of you and your son and vomit and light coming from the Lincoln Memorial.


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