Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for local flavor

"Keepin' it real" is a bit of a phrase I've heard some place, maybe multiple places. My suspicion leans toward it being a greeting by Randy Jackson on American Idol. Don't tell anybody I confessed that though. Actually, my wife watches it and I was in the same room at the time. That's the excuse...

It does serve as a nice segue into today's phrase "local flavor" brought to you by the letter "L". Two of my favorite authors, Roger Crais and CJ Box, write about what they know and a big chunk of that includes the urban and rural landscapes in which their characters live and the plots happen.

For me, RC does a phenomenal job writing about the canyon that Elvis lives in. He does just as well writing about the L.A. and southern CA countryside in which his plots involving Elvis and Pike all take place. Geographic descriptions, maps and freeway descriptions, traffic conditions, and shortcuts are all part of a Roger Crais book taking place in the fictional world of Elvis and Pike, which is an unknown (to me anyway) portion of the real world where I think RC actually lives now. Love his writing.

Writing this entry today, brings me to realize that not only is there a strong local flavor in RC's writing, but he also lavishes time and words on the meals and the food preparation that his characters on occasion indulge in. Further, Elvis has a cat that appears frequently in the Elvis and Pike series. I love these aspects of what RC does with his local flavor and the reality with which he surrounds his characters.

CJ Box writes about a Wyoming game warden, Joe Pickett, and a frequently included friend, Nate Romanowski. The Joe Pickett series is housed in the fictional setting of Saddlestring, Wyoming, even though Saddlestring could well be a real (if uninhabited) place. CJB's writing gets even better, at least for me, in that Joe has a wife and three daughters. The local settings in his books are all the more real because he's dropping his kids off at school in the morning or stopping in at a bar or restaurant or the library where his wife works part-time. Fiction based on reality, or at least bits and pieces of reality.

If you haven't read CJ Box or Roger Crais, give them a try. I think their fictional worlds are all the better to immerse in because they seem so real. You can live vicariously through the characters as they climb mountains, or drive old Forest Service roads, or sneak across back yards because the line between real and fiction that the authors write about so well is so blurry.

1 comment:

  1. Another good one is Jonathan Kellerman. He covers the same territory as Crais, The LA area. When I read either one, it's like I'm there.

    John Holton
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