05 July 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Great American Novel

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In honor of Independence Day, Melanie over at Tea Reads posted the Booking Through Thursday Meme for this week: What is the Great American Novel? My first thought was something by Theodore Dreiser, but then I quickly settled on Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. In fact, I think almost anything by Lewis could fall into this category, but his tale of small town America in Main Street is a classic. A little cynical perhaps but still a valid depiction of one slice of life in America. The first American recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature, Lewis was also prescient enough in 1935 to write: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."


  1. How'd he know that, anyway? :)

  2. Thomas, you do so much reading I am astonished!

    I have always liked "Main Street", too, but I also always thought it was too cynical. However, it is also slyly funny, which makes it a highly enjoyable reading experience.

    I never really thought much about which book might lay the strongest claim to the "great American novel" award, but surely "Moby Dick" must be on the list of finalists, mustn't it?

    All the best to you,


  3. I'm sure that Moby Dick would make it on many lists for the Great American Novel...but I must admit I have never read it. I have read Melville's White-Jacket, but I have never been able to get myself to sit through Moby. Maybe some day.

    And I am guessing that you, Andrew must know that our boy Lewis was from our natal state of Minnesota.

  4. Yes, of course, I know Lewis was from Minnesota.

    And don't forget F. Scott Fitzgerald, too.

  5. Melville's "Billy Budd" is awfully good, too.

  6. I saw a performance of Billy Budd at the Washington National Opera that almost made my list of great performances. Even though it did NOT feature the gloriously shirtless Nathan Gunn.



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