Top 5 Best Fictional Places for Pacing

Where should you wait around for your next Big Idea?

Sarah Reid

That's Traub.


You’re a college student writing a paper, you’re besieged by arguments about social theory, you have to walk back and forth messing up your hair. Where do you wish you were?

5. A Mine inside the “Big Rock Candy Mountain”

Burly socialists who have been relieved of all labor in Utopia wait around to help people like you write a response paper on The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

4. The Bathroom in “Norwegian Wood”


The bird’s flown the coop. You’re alone in her place. As you run water for the bath, you wonder, Did I have her or did she have me? You write a short short about it for Hempel. Frustrated, or maybe in expectation of insurance money, you commit arson.

3. Latin Quarter Garret in “Lost Illusions”

Your great love, a showgirl and courtesan, is on the verge of death from tuberculosis. Your protectress demands you attend theater with her to be watched by the binoculars of Society. Your family starves in the rural ghetto. Your brilliance is being wasted on petty journalism. You live in a one-room studio penthouse. You have just enough room to gesticulate all afternoon while writing a book of poetry and exclamation points.

2. Vienna Alleyway in “The Third Man”

Austrians burn currency in the street for warmth. Bus boys exchange notes and glare at you. The world is black-and-white. Everyone wears trench coats. You wander the streets, looking for a villainous Orson Welles and an idea for your next pulpy Western paperback.

1. The Railroad Tracks outside “Winesburg, Ohio”

It’s late at night in the Midwest of 1915, you’ve secreted away the librarian’s daughter for a walk, you're thinking about your lonely mother, the city, literary fame. You look up at the stars and feel full of your own insignificance. You will write your novel, someday. In the meantime, you admire the authenticity of your overalls.

—Outgoing Arts Chair Alexander E. Traub did it in the pressroom with the knife.