From Mark Johnson:
I’ve been rereading Angels & Demons by Tom French. I know many gangreyers are familiar with the story, maybe the finest newspaper narrative ever. I was stopped cold by this paragraph near the beginning. I’ve never lived in Florida but I wondered if there has ever been a better summary of the state than this single paragraph:
“Even then, they were not merely crossing state lines. They were slipping over to the other side, entering the isle of eternal youth, dominion of the sun, temple of the mouse who devoured the world, paradise of glistening beaches and murmuring waves and hallucinatory sunsets and oranges dripping with ambrosia and alligators smiling jagged smiles and snowy-haired seniors who play shuffleboard as they
wait cheerfully for their collect call from God and intrepid astronauts who climb aboard gleaming spaceships, launched with a roar into a heavenly blue sky.”
I remember a features editor telling me about the importance of having a story provide a sense of place. In one paragraph Tom gives a better sense of place than I’ve ever given in an entire story or series. Cormac McCarthy is very good at this too. Any other writers you can think of who do this well?