FALLING IN LOVE WITH IMAGINARY DISTANCES
A post by John Holbo about African stereotypes in fiction (lost kingdoms populated by white royalty, cannibalism, etc,) has evolved into an entertaining discussion of other fictional realms, from the Marx Brothers' Fredonia to the Black Panther's Wakanda. Crooked Timber , as in "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made", is a handsome and professional looking blog, unlike the raggedy yellowing-old-paperback design you hold in your hands.
Highly recommended literary talk for those who, like Borges, fell in love with imaginary distances. In my case, there were hand-drawn maps of Cimmeria, Middle Earth and other lands pinned up on my bedroom wall throughout my adolescence. And someone on the blog remembered that Marvel put out a map of New York City that pinned down the Parkers' house in Queens, Dr. Strange's house in Greenwich Village or Soho, Avenger's Mansion near the Met, etc. Spidey, a lifelong Mets fan, amuses himself by sitting sideways on the flag pole at Yankee's Stadium and taunting A-Rod.
In our beginning is our end, and I find myself writing about a Benton Harbor, Flint, and Shanghai, China where the streets are paved with magic and the sewers run with forgotten sins. Someone pointed out that the Great American Novel does exist, it is just being mapped out in sections: Hemingway and Jim Harrison have recorded the feeling of birch forests in the Leelanau Peninsula and along Walloon Lake near Charlevoix, Faulkner, O'Conner and Capote certain parts of the rural south, Raymond Chandler still owns parts of Los Angeles, etc. And Borges himself immortalized certain street corners in Buenos Aires where there was a knife fight or a white horse stood in a vacant lot.
And the Official Biography at michaelfountain.org still lists my birthplace as Pellucidar. How well I remember the trumpeting of the parasaurs. Anywhere but here, or as e.e. cummings puts it, "Listen, there's a hell of a good universe next door, let's go."