The Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine Photo Sessions – Pt. 1
Where it didn’t really happen as it’s fiction but what didn’t happen has its base in this place kind of as well as something that may have occurred here or a place like here but is very different in the book
What is being pointed out here? Where are we? Should I tell you? Should you guess where it is my friend is standing and why she is pointing out a mess of a highway that plaintively begs for repaving? If I tell you this is Atlanta, Georgia, would you be able to figure out where she stands? Wouldn’t hurt if you read the title for the photo? Yes, we are at the intersection of Ponce de Leon and Highland. This is where, right here, at the very beginning of the book, Johnnie Jackson is driving Hellene home, they are arguing, a black dog runs into the road in front of his car, he swerves to avoid hitting it and collides with Odile McDonald.
Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine isn’t a novel about Atlanta–in fact, Atlanta is intentionally never once mentioned in Thunderbird as I didn’t want to pin the action to any one place except to suggest, at the beginning, the setting was a city in the east. But Atlanta serves as an essential backdrop, at least how I envisioned portions of it for the book, so I thought I’d do some posts revealing some of Thunderbird’s geographic anchors.
Though not too unlike how this area of Poncey-Highland currently imagines itself, the description in the book is a conglomerate of several co-existing eras. Just as if you were standing in a Google map on the corner of Ponce de Leon and Highland, and you peeled back one partial layer after another of prior Google maps, you would never feel a “Where am I?” disorientation despite the fact you’d be standing in neighborhoods of different temperaments that have become a present cement of pre-existent fragments.
A grocery store is nearby, as in the book, but in the book’s mind the Publix squashes up a little closer with the shopping strip that is here–which has the Plaza Theater (Atlanta’s oldest continually operating cinema) and an Urban Outfitters and The Righteous Room bar and the Majestic Diner which dates from the 1920s and pairs with the cinema as being the two classic landmarks on this stretch of road.
There was never a black dog to appear out of nowhere and run into the road. There was never a Johnnie Jackson with a vintage Thunderbird ride to collide with the never was Odile McDonald, so there was never a wreck. And yet the not-a-wreck happened here of all the many crossroads or near-crossroads in Atlanta. Why will be covered in the next installment, or maybe the one after that (I like to keep my options open) but in all likelihood the why has to do with Odile’s UFO.