Maps of America have recently looked red and blue, but this one from British bookseller Geoff Sawers and his co-artist Bridget Hannigan is pure ink. Instead of outlines of states, this map, brought to us by More Intelligent Life, features the names of famous American authors and their geographic inspiration. More than 200 names are featured, and Simon Garfield of More Intelligent Life notes that both their inclusion can be "arbitrary." For instance, you won't find Norman Mailer on the map. (Sawers said he "was never really a fan"). Some of the writers that did make the cut appear in the place of their birth, but others are stuck in the locations with which they are often associated. Though Herman Melville was born in New York City, on the map he is, in the words of Garfield, "whaling away north of Nantucket with 'Moby Dick.'" Expats T.S. Eliot and Henry James appear in the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite that, Garfield explains that the map can tell us something about our literary tradition: there is "a tight concentration of old-school stars in the east, and of younger, more experimental writers spreading, pioneer-style, westwards."
For those who have the cartography and literary bugs, Sawers has also done a map of Britain and Northern Ireland. The maps are available for sale at the Literary Gift Company, which was created by Sawers and his wife.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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