Where we live helps to frame our identity – it is not the only factor, but it is a significant influence on our language, our culture, our character. Two new books about the coastal culture of the British Isles look at place in distinctly divergent ways: one from the inside, and one from the outside. This echoes Raymond Carver’s dictum that there are only two kinds of story: ‘a man goes on a journey’; and ‘a stranger comes to town’. The former foregrounds the outsider’s perspective. Everything that is experienced is unfamiliar (The Odyssey is the classic example) and here in Coast of Teeth the ‘outsider’ perspective is provided by the American illustrator, but also by the ‘Martian’ approach of its narrator, who looks at his native Britain in a pseudo-anthropological way, with a certain wry estrangement. In the latter of Carver’s examples, the perspective is local – and in The Granite Kingdom the native narrator deconstructs the many stereotypes and clichés that have accreted around the Cornish peninsula. Both approaches have value, as these books exemplify.