First of all it’s a great name. But one that some find curiously irritating. One reviewer of The 400 Lb Gorilla said this:
“The Oxford setting recalled Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials rather too closely for me. Maybe those who live there will appreciate the reasons for the author naming this or that street for the hero to run down as if hell were after him (which it is!).”
Personally, I like the street names. Waton Street, Albert Street, Canal street. Good solid names that say a lot about the place. Other authors, too, have used this little industrial corner of Oxford adjacent to the canal as a backdrop for their work. Hardy uses St Barnabas Church in Jude the Obscure. Oxford’s famous detective, Inspector Morse is forever in and out of Jericho and, as mentioned by the irascible reviewer above, Phillip Pullman saw fit to house the “Gyptians’ there in His Dark Materials.
So I am in good company. But do we use places and names because they have a track record in literature, or maybe because we’re familiar with them and they become a part of the landscape of the narrative? For me, as the author, it’s the latter. I worked at the university for a while and so know the city well.
Can a sense of place get in the way of a novel? Hmm, maybe you should make your own mind up.
The 400Lb Gorilla is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com and many other places, too.