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.

Criminy, that is a BIG question.

I don't know that I have read the Great American Novel yet. I've read many great novels by American writers ... but I would hesitate to call them THE one.

These are the ones that I would say are definitely in the running:

The Scarlet Letter - I do love this book, though I've never known anyone else who has said that. I like Hester, who accepts the criticism of her peers and has to deal with a devil-child, but she does so calmly (on the outside). I like the mystery of Who's The Daddy? and Where's Your Husband? and the ending is incredible.

Tom Sawyer - I like it much better than Huck Finn, which was far too long in my opinion and I refuse to apologize for it. I think it's pretty much the perfect picture of boys. They make big plans, and they get into trouble, and they play jokes, and they get into trouble, and they get crushes on girls, and they get into trouble.

The Awakening - I think it might be the most important feminist novel of all time. It really shook some people up when Chopin suggested that a woman might want to live without a husband, or have value unrelated to her husband's, or pursue love with someone other than her husband. I know: shocking.

To Kill a Mockingbird - I am astounded, every time I read it, at just how GOOD it is. I find myself asking, "How did she DO that?" because I am in awe of the way Harper Lee put words together, how the language is accurate for the region and the people; like, even the NAMES are just right. How does she DO that?


EnnaVic said...

Oh - I had forgotten about The Scarlet Letter - it was a set text in one of my papers at uni, and the one I enjoyed the most out of the books that year. I must have a copy around somewhere at my parents place I expect.

I think I need to start a re-reading list as this is about the third book I have seen taht I read years and years ago and would like to revisit!

--Deb said...

I'm still stunned that I didn't think to put TKAM on my short-list . . . how could I possibly have forgotten such a masterpiece that I love so well?? (Where WAS my head??)

And, well, my only time spent with the Scarlet Letter was a boring English class in high school . . . it's entirely possible I didn't give it the attention it deserved....

Anonymous said...

To Kill A Mockingbird was my choice. Happy BTT!

Faith said...

Like you, I very much like The Scarlet Letter. I wish I'd remembered it when I was making my list! Happy BTT!

teabird said...

The Awakening is a great choice -

thanks for visiting!

bookinhand said...

Nice list! I think I have read three of the four. I'm sorry to say that The Scarlet Letter was one that I just could not get through! But I absolutely loved To Kill A Mockingbird! Diane in Michigan

Stephanie said...

It IS a hard question, isn't it?

I have never read the Scarlett Letter, but I have read the other 3. To Kill a Mockingbird is my choice...and probably my favorite novel of all time. I liked The Awakening, although I started to get deeply annoyed by the end.

And I do agree....I just loved Tom Saywer. I liked it better than Huck Finn too!

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you make a comment on the book you read the most times in one sitting: Silas Marner? ;)

Mei said...

That was actually Ethan Frome: most times in a six weeks grading period. I wrote about it here.


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