What does Bill Stoner, a university professor, have in common with accountant Marty Byrde? Both live in Missouri and both appear to be modest, grey characters. Beyond that, Stoner lives a life in which accepting one’s fate without putting a real fight seems to be the ultimate act of bravery. Byrde’s courage, on the other hand, comes from an altogether different place: protecting his family from a drug cartel. Byrde’s unpretentious resilience looks like pure Darwinism: adapt or die.

Without seeking to cause offense to Mr Twain, today I am matching a wonderful real land, Missouri, with two stories that take place there. Stoner, by John Williams, I would say is one of the best (and most heartbreaking) novels ever written, and Ozark, the great TV series starred by Jason Bateman.

Three lesser-known pearls worth visiting.