“The Pittsburgh Novel” catalogs Western Pennsylvania fiction up to the late 1700s

As a young man in the early 1960s, Peter Oresick stopped by his local library and borrowed a copy of “Request for Sherwood Anderson,” a novel by fellow Ford City native Frank Brookhouser.

In the book, Peter recognized settings and surnames from his hometown – and that was the beginning of a long journey that will culminate in the publication of “The Pittsburgh Novel,” an annotated bibliography of all known fiction with a significant geographic setting in 26 Pennsylvania. westernmost counties.

Scheduled to launch in mid-January by Penn State University Libraries through its Open Publishing program, the searchable bibliography organizes content using keywords, genres and places with abstracts and editor’s notes for each entry.

Peter Oresick began adding entries to the bibliography in the 1970s. He died in 2016 and “The Pittsburgh Novel” was eventually completed by his son Jake Oresick, 40, a lawyer in North Hills.

“This was my father’s idea and passion,” Oresick said. “There’s a lot of historical fiction—dozens of works are about the Battle of Fort Necessity, the Battle of Monongahela, or the Johnstown Flood in 1889.”

From an overzealous fan who smothers a rival fan to death with a terrible towel (“On Any Given Sunday”, 1982, by Ben Elisco) to a man involved in the Pittsburgh steel strikes of 1890 (“The Man Who Lived Backward ,” 1950, by Malcolm Ross), more than 1,500 works are included in “The Pittsburgh Novel,” with writers as diverse as Stephen King, August Wilson, Willa Cather, Michael Chabon, and Kurt Vonnegut.

“Our topography and landmarks can promote a storyline in ways other regions cannot,” Oresick said. “We also have all four seasons, which gives creators more freedom and flexibility. Ultimately, though, many authors write what they know, and many of them have ties to Western Pennsylvania.

The database dates back to 1792, where the oldest known entry is “Modern Chivalry: Containing the Adventures of Captain John Farrago and Teague O’Regan, His Servant,” written by Hugh Henry Brackenridge, who would go on to found the institutions that would eventually it became the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Oresick’s father was a literary scholar, editor, professor and poet. He said he couldn’t be happier to help guide his father’s final project over the finish line.

“This bibliography will support regional scholarship, as academics can now identify and analyze works using multiple subcategories with unprecedented accuracy, and professors can easily find regional works for their reading lists,” said the son and co-editor of Peter, Jake Oresick, in the introduction. “However, The Pittsburgh Novel is also for library science professionals, book clubs, teachers, students, parents looking for a bedtime story, teenagers looking for a movie to stream, and Western Pennsylvania proud of all 26 counties”.

The searchable bibliography organizes content using keywords, genres, and settings, and includes abstracts and editor’s notes for each entry. Places are nested within each entry by county, municipality, neighborhood, sub-borough, and landmark, based on their positions in the title.

A unique feature of the bibliography is the interactive map that accompanies it. The map consists of two layers of zones. One is the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Level, which delineates all neighborhoods within Pittsburgh as regions or zones. One more layer outlines all other municipalities in the western half of Pennsylvania. Clicking on a region in the map displays a list of titles associated with that region or area with links to that title in the bibliography.

When it launches in mid to late January 2023, it will be available at OpenPublishing.PSU.edu.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer at Tribune-Review. You can contact Patrick by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *