Sunday, 15 February 2015

Literary Field Trip - Top 10 places to visit as a book lover, Part 2.

Literary Field Trip
This is part 2 of the only list you will ever need when embarking on a real or metaphorical literary trip. I hasten to add, this is all in no particular order. It would depend on your mood and frame of mind on the day I think. Find part 1 here.

6. New York -

Tourist Map of New York City

I think New York probably appears on most peoples regular 'to visit' wish list, but the literary list of places to visit is so much more interesting. Also, no apologies, but some of these references will relate to the movie adaptations as well, sometimes they really are as good as the book, albeit different, and the two can enhance each other/amalgamate into one.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote (with reference to the gorgeous film starring gorgeous Audrey Hepburn) - Tiffany & Co. store in Manhattan, Holly's brownstone on 169 East 71st Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, Conservatory Water and Bandshell in Central Park, New York Public Library, and Park Avenue.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 'West Egg' and East Egg' are Great Neck and Port Washington in Long Island, as well as stop off's in Manhattan and Flushing in Queens. We get to see the juxtaposition between the rich and working class/East and West side.

The Great Gatsby

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (also see the movie for references) - The Harvard Club on 27th West and 44th Street, Harry's at  1 Hanover Square, Indochine at 430 Lafayette Street, The Four Seasons on 99 East 52nd Street, Pataluma at 1356 1st Avenue at 73rd Street, River Cafe at 1 Water Street in Brooklyn, and Oyster Bar at Grand Central Terminal - yes these are mainly vile, yuppie restaurants that you couldn't get into - what else would you expect!

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger - Penn Station and Grand Central, the pond and carousel at Central Park, Museum of Natural History, Radio City and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Honourable mentions - The Godfather by Mario Puzo, Requiem for a Dream byHubert Selby Jr, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe and Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell.

7. Gloucester via Spain,

Cider with Rosie

This one is fairly specific, and refers to the autobiographical trilogy of 'Cider with Rosie', 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' and 'A Moment of War', by Laurie Lee.

'Cider with Rosie' is an account of Lee's childhood in Slad, Gloucestershire, after World War One. Although it is is no doubt typical of any Cotswold village, anyone who has read this gorgeous book with yearn for the place. Its just a pity the version of Slad no longer exists to visit.

'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' recounts the journey Lee took to Spain, prior to the Spanish Civil War, with nothing but a few pennies and his violin. Once in Spain, he lands in Galicia, then through Madrid, Zamora, Toro, Valladolid, Segovia, Toedo, Cadiz, Tarifa, Malaga and Almunecar - predominantly small villages on a meandering path through the country. If any of these villages were still as they were then, pre-war and untouched by outside influence, they would be worth a visit indeed. Read my review here.

8. Narnia -

The Wood Between the Worlds

There are varying versions of Narnia and its associated world's, as depicted over the course of the seven book series 'The Chronicles of Narnia'. The most famous being 'The Lion, the With and the Wardrobe', and my favourites being 'The Magician's Nephew' and 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader'. It is best to assume that all abysmal film versions of the books do not exist - if you have seen them but skipped the books, you have missed everything. In this case, comparing the films to the books is like comparing a shallow muddy puddle with children jumping in it, to the Atlantic Ocean full of undiscovered creatures and hidden depths.

I think a lot of us fantasise about being able to step into other worlds at will, which is why I like the horror, intrigue and exploration of 'The Magician's Nephew'. The familiarity of the prim, turn of the century British children, and the fantasy of the woods between the new worlds is wonderful.

9. Wonderland - 

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass covers

The book 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll, is so influential now, and so ingrained in the pop culture of today, that I think everyone wants to visit this place of literary nonsense.

Down a rabbit hole, across a pool of tears, through a caucus race, getting advice from a caterpillar, see a baby turned into a pig, attend a mad tea party, play croquet with the Queen, talk to a Mock Turtle and  Gryphon, and take part in a trial where your head is at stake - both the stuff of adventures and nightmares.

10. Japan - 

Japan is so far away, both culturally and geographically, to my own country, that it is an enigma in itself. I find the country intriguing because I don't know which version of the country to accept as reality; pop culture, the media and literature paint so many contradicting versions of Japan, but which, if any, are accurate? Would a visit to the country ultimately be a let down because anime and fiction have given me unreal expectations.

Favourite version of Japan - the world created by Haruki Murakami. I think IQ84 would be the best place to start. He paints a real, yet unreal, version of Japan.

Most disturbing version of Japan - the books of Ryu Murakami. Surreal, gritty, disturbing, yet brightly coloured and flashy. Think American Psycho in a more confusing landscape.

The Remains of the Day

Favourite Japanese author - Kazuo Ishiguro. The author was born in Japan and raised in a Japanese home, but grew up primarily in England. Thus, his books feel very different from both Japanese and English authors, he is in some way unique. 'The Remains of the Day' is a near perfect piece of literature by any definition.

Honorary mention - all anime. I have read bits and pieces, and watched even more bits and pieces, as have we all. I fell like most westerners see a version of anime Japan in their heads first and foremost.

I Am A Cat

Great books set in Japan:
In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami
IQ84 and Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
I Am A Cat by Natsume Soseki
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

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