The Big Read Blog (Archive)


Washington, DC

Sunrise in Enterprise, Oregon---home to the repeat Big Readers at the Fishtrap Literary Center. Photo by NEA Staff.

Big Read authors have succeeded not only in creating memorable characters, but also memorable landscapes in which these iconic characters play out their stories. From The Big Read reader's guides, here's a selection of literary landscapes.

 "At times the whole sky was ringed in shooting points and puckers of light gathering and falling, pulsing, fading, rhythmical as breathing. All of a piece. As if the sky were a pattern of nerves and our thoughts and memories traveled across it. As if the sky were one gigantic memory for us all." --- from Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

"A low ashen sky loomed over the plantation, if not over the entire state of Louisiana. A swarm of black birds flew across the road and alighted in a pecan tree in one of the backyards to our left. The entire plantation was deadly quiet, except for the singing coming from the church up the quarter behind us." --- from A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

"San Franciso's night-fog, thin, clammy, and penetrant, blurred the street. A few yards from where Spade had dismissed the taxicab a small group of men stood looking up an alley. Two women stood with a man on the other side of Bush Street, looking at the alley. There were faces at windows." --- from The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

"The town was in the middle of the deep South. The summers were long and the months of winter cold were very few. Nearly always the sky was a glassy, brilliant azure and the sun burned down riotously bright." --- from The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

"There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land . . . ."  --- from My Antonia by Willa Cather

What are your favorite literary landscapes? Leave a comment or drop a line to the blog.


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