Saturday, June 4, 2011

The allegedly fictitious

Stan Carey links to this article on twitter, re the (in-fact-quite-real) town of Clifden:

with the note that "much of Ireland has become imaginary." It reminded me of the equally embarrassing mistake by Greenberg and Fox in their NYRB review (last week or so) of Howard Norman's new book, which included the very strange assertion that "Economy" was a made-up town name. This was esp. surprising to me because the Economies are mentioned in one of Elizabeth Bishop's most famous poems:

One stop at Bass River.
Then the Economies
Lower, Middle, Upper;
Five Islands, Five Houses,
where a woman shakes a tablecloth
out after supper.

(Along similar lines I seem to remember the NYRB review of Clockers claiming that Yoo-hoo was a made-up drink...) It is curious that reviewers are so willing to assume that novels are set in fictional towns: I do not read enough "regional" novels to have a good sense of how reliable this assumption normally is. But in this age of Google it is still egregiously lazy not to check.

(The Bishop poem reminds me that I have been meaning to write about trimeter, and Auden, and many other things, but have been in low spirits -- positively glunch -- this week; partly under the weather, partly just dreading giant conference in Atlanta the week after next, partly just not enthused about all the writing I have to do -- there is a large backlog of results that should have been published some time ago, I really need to sit down without an internet connection and bang out a few papers.)

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