Thursday, July 5, 2007

Great American Novel


What, in your opinion, is the (mythical) Great American Novel? At least to date. A “classic,” or a current one–either would be fine. Mark Twain? J.D. Salinger? F. Scott Fitzgerald? Stephen King? Laura Ingalls Wilder?

It doesn’t have to be your favorite book, mind you. “Citizen Kane” may be the “best” film, and I concede its merits, but it’s not my favorite. You don’t have to love something to know that it’s good.

Now, I know that not all of you are American–but you can play, too! What I want from you is to know what you consider to the best novel of YOUR country. It might be someone the rest of us haven’t heard of and, frankly, I think we’d all like to get some new authors to read.

In fact, while we’re at it–I’m curious about the geographical make-up of this meme. So, while you’re leaving your link to your post, tell us where in the world you are!


The Great American Novel?? To choose just one seems like The Great American Injustice since there are so many great novels. I'm fairly partial to the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is such a great book written in the 60's. Not only did it win the Pulitzer Prize, but it brings to light a horrible time in our country. It was written during a time of racial inequality, and yet, it showed sympathy and courage. It will always be my favorite novel.


But what about books like Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell about the American Civil War, Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, a wonderful coming of age story, or any book written by Mark Twain? Is is fair to not include such wonderful books by writers like Stephen King or Anne Rice because they are considered Horror novels? The Stand by King is a book about a killer virus that wipes out 99% of the population, and has a good vs. evil twist as the remaining people try to settle themselves into a world that is no longer what it used to be. It is certainly one of my very favorites. The Vampire Chronicles by Rice are a series of books that revolve around a group of vampires and has characters that are unforgettable described in beautiful prose.


What about more recent books? Will books by Cormac McCarthy or Jonathan Safron Foer stand the great test of time? I guess only time will tell. But The Road by McCarthy is this years Pulitzer and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Foer is a post 9/11 book that is as unique and beautiful as it is heartbreaking.

Who really knows what will be considered the next "Great American Novel"? I don't. But I love trying to find out!!
Later!

15 comments:

Kristy said...

Yes, we are on the same wavelenght!

Angela/SciFiChick said...

Wow, don't know if I could choose just one.. from an American author, that is.

kookiejar said...

I think 'To Kill A Mockingbird' would have to be my candidate for the Great American Novel. It so perfectly captured not only what it is like to be an American child in the South, but also the attitudes and prejudices of the time it was set in. There aren't many books like that.

--Deb said...

I know--it's a tough question. Even I chickened out and chose an entire genre rather than a single book. But, yes, TKAM is DEFINITELY on my short-list!

John Mutford said...

I just posted a very similar question at LitMinds.org

If I had to choose my favourite Canadian book (where I live) I'd probably fluctuate from day to day, but today I'd pick Al Purdy's "Rooms For Rent in the Outer Planets" (a collection of poetry). If I was allowed to pick an American book, I'd probably say "Of Mice and Men" but again, that'd probably change depending on my mood.

bookinhand said...

I agree with your comment about considering "newer" novels. So much has happened in the last few decades that we now need to consider some newer works. The two you chose are books I hope to read in the near future. Diane in Michigan

Bonnie Jacobs said...

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a classic and can't be beat. Bonnie in Tennessee

Jane said...

"To Kill A Mockingbird" was a great book. I picked "Hawaii" by James Michener because of the sweep of history it contains. I'm afraid that I skip the horror genre because those books give me nightmares, but there are some excellent sci-fi novels like Robert Heinlein's "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress".

howzerdo said...

TKAM is a great book. Also many of Steinbeck's works. To go with something more modern, I almost picked something by Margaret Atwood...then realized I live about 5 hours too far south for her writing to qualify as my choice (duh)!

EnnaVic said...

It was a hard one to do this week. I guess being from NZ I had less to choose from, although a Kiwi friend mentioned one not in my post which I had thought about, so maybe I need to do a page of great NZ books on my blog at some stage.

There are some you mention that I haven't come across so I will have to do a bit of reading once my uni paper finishes (not until around Oct :-( )

Have a good day :)

Lightheaded said...

If I were American I'd probably choose that as well. It's a lovely story. It showed the truth of racial inequity without being preachy. And I like Boo.

Thanks for dropping by my blog earlier. Have a happy Thursday as well.

Rhinoa said...

I am due to read To Kill a Mockingbird this year and am really looking forward to it. I love the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, she has a wonderful style of writing that brings places and characters to life.

jean pierre said...

i guess the great south african novel, in my opinion, would have to be "circles in a forest" by dalene mathee. there is an english translation, but i read it in afrikaans, the language it was written in, so i can't say how good the english one is.

the title refers to the practice of who elephants who, when they are being followed, lead one in a circle until they eventually come up behind their pursuer.

there are also other conceptual circles in the novel.

what makes it great is that it captures something about afrikaans culture - in particular their affinity with nature.

although, the fact that south africa is such a multicultural country makes it even harder to have a great south african novel, reallly...

not that american, of course, but the closest that i've come to reading the great one would be "of mice and men".

jean pierre said...

by the way, whats a meme?

Trish said...

Stephanie, great answer! I wish I was in town to do this meme, but I'm not sure what my answer would have been anyway! :)

I loved To Kill A Mockingbird, and I think I can learn something new from it each time I re-read it.

Best wishes!