Novelist’s Toledo blends reality & fantasy


TOLEDO – Author Lydia Netzer, a 1993 graduate of Bowling Green State University, will read, discuss and
sign her new novel "How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky" Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the
Huntington Room of Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, 325 Michigan St.
The novel, her second, was published on July 1 by St. Martin’s Press.
Set in Toledo, it features both beloved local landmarks like the rock club Frankie’s, where Netzer use to
play in a rock group,  and One Seagate to some decidedly fictitious locales including the Toledo
Institute of Astronomy, which she said is "a mecca of learning and culture for astronomers and
philosophers around the world."
In an email, Netzer  explained: "I wanted to set the novel in Toledo specifically because it lends
itself to a surreal, magical layer. In the book, the old swamp around the city is full of astrologers
and mystics, psychics and witches while the city itself is bustling with scientists and mathematicians.
I wanted to put my ‘Institute of Astronomy’ into a city that most people had heard of but didn’t know
too much about. So, when I say to people, ‘It’s set at the Toledo Institute of Astronomy!’ most people
have to wonder if there really might be such a place. It helps readers suspend their disbelief."

Further, she wrote, the topography of the city "allows my main character to believe that it mirrors
ancient Babylon, and that the Tigris is the Maumee River. (The Euphrates is the super collider they’re
building underground.)"
The main character does research in "transformative symmetry and cosmology – and it’s pretty
In Netzer vision narwhals live in Lake Erie. "That’s another whopper that people have told me they
have to Google to see if it might not be true."
"How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky" was called "a lovely summer valentine" by
Entertainment Weekly.
Netzer’s first novel, "Shine Shine Shine," was a New York Times Notable Book in 2012, a Target
Book Club pick, and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.
The writer was raised in Detroit and went to graduate school in Chicago before moving to Virginia 15
years ago. 

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