“One place comprehended can make us understand other places better.” So wrote Southern novelist Eudora Welty in her essay “Place in Fiction,” and it’s a concept well worth thinking about in an era in which communities and countries feel paradoxically fractured and all-encompassing, in which people feel torn apart and thrown together, all at once. At times like these, it is not a bad thing to step away from the bigger picture and focus on something smaller, as a way of re-orienting yourself in this world. – from A Nonfiction Map Of The United States
Kristin Iversen has compiled a list of the best pieces of nonfiction — books, essays, memoirs — from every state in the US (plus DC and NYC). It’s a way, through reading, to get to know a place.
At times like these, it is not a bad thing to step away from the bigger picture and focus on something smaller, as a way of re-orienting yourself in this world. And what better way to do that than by reading? The very best writing about a place can bring the reader a whole new understanding of a life different than their own, as well as, per Welty, a better grasp of their own place in the world.
Here’s a list from the States I’ve lived in:
New Jersey (my home State): 12 Days of Terror – A definitive investigation of the 1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks, by Richard G. Fernicola
New York: The Most Exclusive Restaurant in America, by Nick Paumgarten
Georgia: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: a Savannah Story, by John Berendt
New Mexico: New Mexico, by D.H. Lawrence