Have you ever watched a movie and then found out it’s based on a true story, and somehow that retroactively heightens your enjoyment of the film? It’s true for me, and I suspect it’s true in general. As much as we love fiction, there’s something about grounding stories in the real world that make them more tangible and more impactful.
That’s why Placing Literature kicks so much ass. You’ve got to play around with this site (and contribute to it!) to see how much fun it is. To me, it’s as addictive as that first time I discovered satellite views in Google Maps. My wife and I searched for all the homes we’ve lived in and zoomed down to spot gardens we planted, even our cars in the driveway. That sense of place and memory are tied together in powerful ways.
I added some scenes from SHIFT to the Placing Literature site. Donald and Helen’s home in Savannah (which I remember locating for the book using Google Maps, so that anyone who lived in the area would know that Highway 17 really turns on to the street mentioned in the novel). I put a marker at Donald’s office and Thurman’s office in the Dirksen and Rayburn buildings in D.C. And a marker at the fictional RYT hospital in Boston where they got their nano treatments. But the best was placing the silo itself in Fulton County. It helped that I flew out of Atlanta a few weeks ago, and I saw where the trees could be cleared and the skyline spotted. (Sorry state park!)
I also played around with scenes from L. Ron Hubbard’s BATTLEFIELD EARTH, one of my favorite all-time books, and one that truly spans the globe. Seriously, I can’t explain how connected to the story I felt by placing markers on Denver and Karibe and describing scenes from this book. It made it more real. If you try it for yourself, I think you’ll see what I mean.
There’s another great way to use the site, and that’s just to explore stories being told around you. I zoomed in to Charlotte, N.C., and there’s a book by Maggie Bishop, my friend from Boone! John Hart’s books aren’t listed yet, but it would be cool for people in the Davidson area to see that these stories take place in their back yards. The site appears to be very new. Once there are thousands of books added, I think people will enjoy discovering local authors this way, or at least authors writing about nearby locales.
If you add a recent book you’ve read (or written), let me know about it in the comments! The link again: Placing Literature.