The Los Angeles of Raymond Chandler. The Paris of Ernest Hemingway. The Berlin of Christopher Isherwood. The San Francisco of Dashiell Hammett or Armistead Maupin. The New York of Edith Wharton or Isaac Bashevis Singer. The London of Charles Dickens or Zadie Smith. Anyone who loves writing can't help but associate great cities with the great authors who have set their books there. Last week, we asked the Red Room community to blog about their favorite cities, and we were overwhelmed with the variety of themes, the depth of feeling, and the sheer geographic breadth of their choices.
Some writers took the opportunity to share fun secrets of their favorite vacation spots, like Alex Fraser's Mexican beachside resort of Mazatlán or Sharon E. Cathcart's swinging London; for others, holiday destinations led them to make profound changes in their own lives, like Catherine Nagle in Cape May, New Jersey and Blair Kilpatrick in New Orleans.
From surprised delight in visiting a completely different world (Robert J. Bullock in Tbilisi, the Republic of Georgia) to a lifelong feeling of home (Patrick Bae in Ventura, California), and from writers (L.M. Quinn and Keith Pyeatt) finding their greatest inspiration in the mountainous deserts of Tangiers, Morocco, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, respectively, every continent on Earth was represented.
We got a particular kick out of the imaginary cities Red Roomers cited as their favorites: the Gotham City of Batman, where Kyle Garrett writes anything can happen; a city on a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri, beloved by Joe Sweeney; another utopian science-fiction fantasy city called "Ith," dreamed of by Paul L. Bates; and, very sensibly, the imaginary village of Hmmm that author Richard Martin invented for his book Mixed Animal is his favorite.
We're featuring three bloggers this week who each brought something different to their entries on their favorite cities:
Author Liam Callanan’s daughters love their hometown of Milwaukee so much, his kindergartener tried to get a police officer to arrest a Cubs fan at a Milwaukee Brewers game. Read "What We Talk About When We Talk About Brats."
Liam will receive a copy of Red Room author David Downie's new thriller in which the City of Light is transformed into Paris City of Night.
Red Room member Kelly Tweeddale’s personal history brings her to Boston at three key junctures in her life, including a break-up at nineteen, a gift somewhere in her thirties, and running the Boston Marathon…next April. Read "Boston Bound."
We know Kelly will enjoy letting Angela K. Nickerson take her on A Journey to Michelangelo's Rome. Angela's book is described as a "unique resource—part biography, part history, and part travel guide—(that) provides an intimate portrait of the relationship between Michelangelo and the city he restored to artistic greatness."
Aberjhani makes us believe he knows and adores a city he's never visited. In "A Hostess and Haven Named Paris," the author takes us on an imaginary journey with the late, legendary Richard Wright as Wright navigates the French capital in 1946. Aberjhani's fantasia demonstrates perfectly how as readers we lovingly connect cities with our favorite authors.
He'll receive Leza Lowitz's debut collection of short stories and one novella, Green Tea to Go: Stories from Tokyo. One reviewer wrote about the book: "If you've lived in Japan, this collection will awaken memories. If you haven't, you'll find yourself wanting to."
More than eighty bloggers took the blogging challenge this time. Here are just a few whose posts we also enjoyed:
- A well-intentioned colleague told this writer "If you want to write, we need to get you to New York." Well, not author Shaindel Beers. She is writing just fine and is much happier in the small towns with horses that remind her of her childhood. Read "The Best City, For Me, Isn't One."
- In her first Red Room blog post, member Karna Small Bodman--a former Senior Director of the National Security Council now writing political thrillers--tells of her own real-life intrigue in Washington D.C., when she narrowly escaped close proximity to an assassination attempt on President Reagan. Read "Washington D.C.: Pinnacle of Power.
- Another first-time blogger, member and literary agent Kimberley Cameron blogs about her love of Paris being so strong she moved there. Read "A Window on Paris."
- Rio de Janeiro sets the stage for member Maryanne Raphael’s intriguing window into the beginning of a then-perfect but ill-fated interracial marriage between two artists. Read "My Favorite City: Rio de Janeiro."
- Author Farzana Versey, who knows and loves Mumbai, takes the reader on an intriguing vacation in Dubai in which she marvels at the cultural juxtapositions of modern Middle Eastern life. Read "Kitsch of the Desert."
- Member Rebecca Cantrell fell in love early with Berlin, and as happens with many first loves, she never really got over it. Read "Berlin: My Favorite City."
- Author Claire Elizabeth Terry's harrowing but eventually inspiring account of the ancient Indian city of Varanasi engages every sense and sensibility. Read "The Skin of the Cow."
There are dozens more fantastic posts. Please take a look at all of them here, and thanks to everyone who shared such a variety of thoughts, feelings, and experiences with their favorite cities.
–Huntington W. Sharp, Editor, Red Room