This is a post in my 50 Nifty series, in which I’m reading through 50 books that embody each of the 50 United States. Find out why I’m doing this and which books I’m reading when (so you can read along) by checking out my first 50Nifty post, or else browse all 50Nifty posts by clicking here!
Split Images, Elmore Leonard
The first thing everyone I talk to about this 50Nifty project asks is “What’s the book for _____ (state I’m from/state we’re in right now/state that I went to school in)?” I’d already read several on the original list and had heard of many more, but the rest (a big percent) not only had I not read, but I hadn’t even heard of! I went to school in Michigan and have a lot of family and friends still living there, so it holds a special place in my heart, and I remember being disappointed upon first reading the 50Nifty list because Elmore Leonard’s Split Images is one of the books that I’d never heard of before. And although I don’t think it’s likely the best choice for Michigan (for reasons I’ll get into in a minute), I still enjoyed reading the book. It’s not great literature, but it’s a good summer read; easy and entertaining, and it also happens to take place during main character Bryan Hurd’s vacation from his police job. Leonard writes your basic “good guys vs. bad guys” novel with some mixups between who the good guys and bad guys really are. It’s the kind of book you could imagine being a movie–maybe because you almost feel like you’ve seen it before.
Although Bryan Hurd lives and works in Detroit and a little of the action in the book takes place there as well, it’s mostly centered around Florida, so I really didn’t feel like it had anything that deeply connected to Michigan. Maybe I’m biased, but so many of the other books on the list left me wanting to travel to the state and experience the feeling of that state firsthand, but this one just left me wanting to go to Florida instead of Michigan. And not because Michigan is not worth going to—quite the contrary, in fact!
My reaction to this book makes me wonder how the other states in which I’ve lived, etc. will fare: Ohio, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin. Will I feel a sense of duty to draw people there? I didn’t feel that need with Illinois, perhaps because Chicago is such a tourist destination anyway. I guess we’ll see!