For some reason every time I see Pensacola in a book I’m reading, a sense of hometown pride swells in me. For instance, I’m currently reading Tom Robbins’s Another Roadside Attraction and came across this line on page 61: “Despite his silly grin. He was accepted for pilot’s training and was graduated from the Pensacola air school, third in his class.”
This line is from Barry Hannah’s Ray: “I was a pilot of the jet when I was taking the obnoxious rich people in their Lear from Montreal to New York to Charlotte to Pensacola to New Orleans to Mexico City to the Yucatan to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because they had an old friend there.”
Notice a trend? Flying. The Navy and the beaches tend to be what people mention the most when talking about Pensacola. It’s hard not to. There are many more examples than just the two I’ve mentioned. Larry Brown mentions it a few times. Florida writers Carl Hiassan and Tim Dorsey do as well. However, I never felt we, Pensacolians, ever had a book that was truly ours. A book about people from Pensacola or one that explores our culture (I’m referring to fiction here as we have quite a few nonfiction books about the area). And although my book Native Moments is mostly set in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, I feel there is just enough in there about Pensacola to also be considered a book about Pensacola and its people.
And it isn’t just books. I remember while watching the movie Contact in the theaters how the audience cheered when Pensacola was mentioned.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets that rush of excitement in seeing someone acknowledge your city in print. I was always a little jealous of places like Key West or New Orleans or Miami that seem to have endless number of books written about them. What are some of your favorite books set in your hometown?