Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Seeking Small Town Inspiration

Waitsfield, 2006

Hello.

Can you help me out? It's a pretty minor favor and I bet each one of you has at least one idea for me. I'll gladly trade you an idea, if you are busy compiling your own list.

I'm writing about some characters that live in a small rural town and I want to keep myself in this small town state of mind for a while. I have my own memory and imagination to draw on, but living in the middle of San Francisco (and reading magazines like the gentlewoman) is a bit distracting. I need some additional inspiration.

Many of you shared your love for Northern Exposure with me, so there's one idea. I'm planning on watching Il Postino again and I'm reading a novel written in 1955 about life in a Catalan fishing village, The Day of the Fox. Okay, we are off to a good start.

What other small town centered novels, short stories, poems, memoirs, essays, recipes, movies, television shows, artwork, or _____ have you enjoyed?

Thanks for thinking about this for me.

31 comments:

  1. I think there's a bit of small town life in Marilynne Robison's Gilead. I'm intrigued by what you're working on - I look forward to hearing more!

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  2. W.O. Mitchell - Roses Are Difficult Here.

    Mitchell has perfected small town Canada, especially on the prairies. The most famous of his books is Who Has Seen the Wind. The Roses book is set in the 1950s (I think most of his books are).

    I'll come back as I think of more.

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  3. life and times of peter gzowski found on cbc -

    hmm. curious. I am.

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  4. Thanks, Lecia. I've read Housekeeping and Home and can't recall why I didn't hop back to Gilead.

    kate, It looks fun. I haven't heard of this author or book before. Thanks.

    RW, Thanks. The description of his early career looks interesting. I'm just not so sure how I'd be able to view it.

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  5. I love Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, beautiful read but even better heard with Richard Burton and Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory is magic. Recently I discovered Woody Allen's magical Radio Days. Yes it's set not far from New York but in Rockaway and all about his family and the local people while he was growing up. Oh and Winter's Bone too, the book and the film. Good luck!

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  6. A lot of BritComs are based in small towns -- "Doc Martin" and "The Vicar of Dibley" are two that spring immediately to mind.

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  7. I would of course be immediately thinking of food... So like water for chocolate, babettes feast and chocolat all have small town and a richness of characters. Bookwise, non food, I have always loved all the Russian and French classsic novels

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  8. i´ll admit it: i´m really into Gilmore Girls, don´t know why... but it surely has small town charm, not the real one, of course, but anyway... in case i come up with a more grown up suggestion i´ll let you know!

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  9. i'm thinking of crossing to safety by stegner and any of wendell berry's novels as well as verlyn klinkenborg's the rural life.

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  10. I'm linking to our small town newspaper...you can't get much more small town/rural than us!

    http://www.cazenoviarepublican.com/SitePage-36502.114134_Cazenovia_Republican.html#axzz1O7zyZZkX

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  11. This is such a great incubator!

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  12. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers is always good.

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  13. I would say anything by Alice Munro -- she captures the rural life poignantly. And even L.M. Montgomery's short stories (in addition to all the 'Anne' books), as her characters practically leap off the page and are fully entrenched in small-town life. (Interesting that I picked two Canadian authors ...!)

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  14. I always think of the short stories and novels of John O'Hara as being very small town American. I can still feel the atmosphere of them while recalling nothing at all of the detail.

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  15. I like Tracy's suggestion, "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter."
    Hmmm. Set in Northeast small towns, Olive Kitteridge and The Postmistress both came to mind.
    Also, I just finished reading Annie Proulx's Wyoming based short stories--Fine Just the Way It Is---the settings range from out west rural and small town, and the time shifts from story to story. Some contemporary, some from the 1800's. strong, strong writing.

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  16. Two ideas:

    * A song - "Our Town" sang by Kate Rusby. You can listen to it here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6hzXLwW6PY

    * A book. "The True Deceiver" by Tove Jansson. She's most famous for writing the moomin-troll stories but her novels and short stories are breath-taking.

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  17. am thinking housekeeping, both movie and book (hey, there's another robinson!). (just noticed you've read it, so there.)
    also the love letter, yet again both film and book (cathleen schine).
    of course there was our own back yard, where rurality ruled...
    sheri reynold's a gracious plenty.
    fried green tomatoes.
    alice munro's worlds (especially the librarian story - but really can't recall the title, definitely from the open secrets compilation.
    n♥
    and good luck.

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  18. I just picked up Debra Marquart's "The Horizontal World: Growing up wild in the middle of nowhere." Here's a review:

    http://www.creativenonfiction.org/brevity/bookrev/davis_world.htm

    And what about a song? I'm loving Lucinda William's "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" found here:

    http://youtu.be/ainIBDO6a8E

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  19. you might like "south of the northeast kingdom" by david mamet, and "third person rural" by noel perrin (about where i live now). and "in the village" by anthony bailey (about where i grew up).

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  20. this man's work makes my heart sing:

    http://www.jamesravilious.com/

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  21. there are a host of southern writers that inspire me, including harper lee. truman capote also wrote about small town life in addition to breakfast at tiffany's. the best sort of inspiration is think about going to a small church in your community - someplace where everyone knows everyone.

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  23. John Steinbeck. California rural small town life in the thirties. Cannery Row, East of Eden, Tortilla Flat, the Red Pony and any short story.

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  24. Years ago, we bought the boxed set (which now sounds antiquated, doesn't it?) of all seasons of Northern Exposure. Looooove it! Anyway, I have some films for you. The Secret of Santa Victoria is a lovely capture of life in a small Italian Village. And,the film (or book) Cross Creek is based on the life of author Marjorie Rawlings. You might really enjoy the quirky characters in the film Antonia's Line. Thinking....

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  25. Wow, wow, and wow. You guys are good! Songs, I hadn't thought of songs, or a newspaper, or a radio drama. Gorgeous photography too. This comments section has transformed into a small town library. I hope all of you look around and find something to take with you. Thank you so much, all of you.

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  26. I hope I am not too late with my contribution... The novel, The Bird Artist by Howard Norman. It takes place in a small village in Newfoundland. Such a good book ... I read it about 15 years ago and think it's time to read it again.

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  27. Winesuburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson,
    one of my favorite books, you will love it, if you want to stay in a small town state of mind :)

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  28. i first thought of the poet, brenda coultas, and her book A Handmade Museum. she explores life in the bowery in NYC and then in rural indiana. i'll keep thinking on this theme... xo, k.

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  29. arrived here today and I'm loving it so much already :)
    Well, there's my favorite movie "Cinema Paradiso" a master piece for me, also "Departures" a beautiful japanese movie about the taboo of death in a small town, also there's this beautiful book "the Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society" that come to mind.
    I'll come back if I remember anything else.

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  30. I highly recommend anything written by Alice Munro.

    x E.

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