“When I first decided I wanted to be a writer, when I was 10, 11 years old, the books that I loved…came with maps and glossaries and timelines—books like Lord Of The Rings, Dune, The Chronicles Of Narnia. I imagined that’s what being a writer was: You invented a world, and you did it in a very detailed way, and you told stories that were set in that world.”—Michael Chabon, Interview with the AV Club
My undergrad thesis argued that world-building wasn’t just for fantasy and sci-fi writers—every tale has a setting, every tale creates a world in the reader’s mind—and it explored ways that drawing that world (visual thinking!) can lead to better fiction.
Some of my favorite “lit’ry” books are accompanied by maps.
A recent read, Donald Ray Pollock‘s short-story collection, Knockemstiff, is set in the “real” town of Knockemstiff, right outside of Chillicothe, Ohio (30 miles from where I grew up—if you keep heading north on 23 you’ll get to Circleville). The book includes a nice hand-pencilled map by artist David Cain:
Lynda Barry’s Cruddy contains four maps. Here’s two of them:
And while it was a TV show and not a book, one of my favorite fictional worlds, Twin Peaks, was drawn by David Lynch for the pitch meeting:
Some writers use previously-made maps to help create their fiction: Melville used whaling charts, Joyce used Ordnance surveys of Dublin, and Pynchon used aerial maps.
What other favorite books of yours include maps? Let’s get a big ol’ list going in the comments!