Saigon, 56 Grand Street, NYC (AKA inside Peter Straub’s head)

I like the topic of Dave’s last post. Places and books…

A really great author can make you visualize the setting so clearly that you almost feel like you’re there. Sometimes they actually make you want to go there. Sometimes they even make you feel like you need to go there.

One of my favorite books is Koko by Peter Straub. It’s a mystery about a group of friends who served in Vietnam together and are now trying to stop a serial killer. One of the vets, Tina Pumo (Tina’s a guy; it’s just a childhood nickname), owns a trendy SoHo restaurant called Saigon. The exact location of this restaurant, as mentioned in the book, is 56 Grand Street in NYC. On one of our trips to the city, it became my mission to go there.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t exactly find a 56 Grand Street. The closest place to that street address was an unoccupied two-story building at the corner of Grand Street and West Broadway. There was a “for lease” sign in the window. My head instantly filled with daydreams of buying the place, opening a Vietnamese restaurant, and living in the loft above. Of course, this was a ridiculously unrealistic daydream, but just walking down that street made me feel closer to Tina Pumo and his buddies Michael Poole, Conor Linklater, and Tim Underhill.

Strolling past the fictitious 56 Grand Street…

Koko is part of the Blue Rose trilogy, as are Mystery and The Throat. I would love to visit the Caribbean island of Mill Walk, where Mystery (my favorite of the three books) takes place. Alas, that island doesn’t exist. A trip to Puerto Rico had to suffice (and, in terms of climate and scenery, fit the bill quiet nicely). The Throat is set in Millhaven (a variation of Milwaukee). I may skip that particular pilgrimage…

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About HFBrainerd

Published novelist and Disney World fanatic. Thanks for coming along on this wild ride!
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