22 December 2012

I love the Literary Gift Company but I don't like this map


One of the most pleasant commercial spots on the interwebs for the bookish is The Literary Gift Company. So many wonderful things. I love it.

One of their offerings is this literary map of the United States of America. I recognize that, like any book list, the map is essentially an exercise in subjectivity. I don't hate this map. But a couple of things bother me slightly. The first is the location of certain authors. It must have been hard to decide where to put certain authors. Do you place their names in their birthplaces or where they spent most of their lives, or where they set most of their work? I get it. But I still take exception to things like the largish F. Scott Fitzgerald being placed in his (and my own) natal state of Minnesota. Does anyone think of Minnesota when they think of Fitzgerald, I mean besides Minnesotans? Not likely. He should be near East Egg and West Egg. Not only is Gatsby his most popular novel, but it is easily one of the seminal works of American fiction. I also take exception to Garrison Keillor's name being more prominent than Sinclair Lewis's. I like Garrison Keillor, but his writing is but a shadow of the literary icon Lewis.

I understand why the literary cartographers would want to shift Fitzgerald to his Midwestern roots. Not only are there far more northeastern authors, but they are all duking it out for a fairly small geographic area. Geography also wreaks havoc with how big an author's name should  be. Based on this map you would think that E. Annie Proulx and Black Elk (who?) were the biggest writers to come along before and since sliced bread. Literary figures who tower above the likes of Walt Whitman and Mark Twain.

If I could actually see the map up close I am sure I would have even more challenges with it. But I don't need to turn this into a flaming rant. I will just leave it as a slightly excited observation with the occasional raised voice.

They have also made one for the UK, but I will leave that critque to my friends across the water.


  1. I love the idea of this. I have no idea where authors are from, either in the US or UK, so it wouldn't bother me if they were inaccurate - what would bother me is putting up a map with authors I don't like on it!

  2. I enjoyed Black Elk Speaks, T. But I don't think it is your kind of book--Native American spirituality. Who knows? You might!

  3. Some very weird choices on the UK map. (Abiezer Coppe, anybody?) Maybe it's my eyesight, but I can't make out Dickens and yet they've found space in London for Christina Rossetti!

  4. And why isn't Steinbeck in California? or am I missing it.

  5. OOps just enlarged it and yes I did miss it.

  6. I really like their UK Children's Lit one - From Neverland to Wonderland and would love to see a US version of same. I think more specialized versions are the way to go for us booklovers - I'd really like a Cookbook Authors one!

    This US one makes me feel I really don't know American Lit at all - no Katherine Anne Porter for example? It also looks likes the East coast esp is so full they're having to plop F Scott Fitzgerald in his birth state whether it suits him or not.


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