Seeing what we know well turned upside-down (even without its double standing unreflected above) will surprise and refresh our thoughts of it. However, Maine writer Monica Wood says there are drawbacks.
“The author perceives his own region in his own unique way; it may not square very well with his neighbor’s perception of the same place. The author risks being accused of either romanticizing or criticizing the place. A reader once took great issue with me for placing a fictional bakery on a real-life street, for example.”
A professor of American studies taught our undergraduate class on Maine writers at UMF. When I joined the course I was a bit disappointed to discover that contemporary novels were not to be considered. Since then I’ve been grateful it was otherwise, but I would not mind taking the course I had hoped for even now. Professor Jay Hoar taught that Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs was considered a realistic novel in 1896, but had since been viewed, by academic regionalists, as an example of fiction by a local colorist. Willa Cather, writing in the preface to my paperback edition, grouped this book with The Scarlet Letter, and Huckleberry Finn as lasting American novels. “I can think of no others that confront time and change so serenely.”
On moving to Maine and first seeing these ledges from a nearby road, I was enchanted, surprised. I’d never seen anything like them before: Mountains like waves of rock over the land? Yesterday we broke trail in this field below them. In three feet of snow, exhausting ourselves, driven by winds laden with chill factors below zero Fahrenheit. Oh that cup of coffee on our return!