Thursday, July 05, 2012

Lovin' American Authors and Belated 4th!

Yo! How was the 4th of July for everyone? It was low-key at my house. The fam came over to my place for lunch (pulled pork sammiches, tater salad, baked beans, cheesy artichoke spinach dip, red velvet cake, cholesterol medication), Greyson and I played outside in the afternoon, and then we slept through (most of) the fireworks. Except the ones that woke me up at 12:30am. I've never jumped out of bed so fast in my life!

So yesterday I stumbled upon an unlikely post idea. I just didn't have time to post it yesterday when it would've been most applicable! I was hanging out on my couch, Facebooking on my phone, when I ran across the following question from the good people at Kobo:
Happy Fourth of July from the Kobo team! Who is your favorite American author? Don't forget to share some titles!
Loaded question!!! As I started typing out some of my faves and typing and typing, I had a realization. But first, here was my answer:
Willa Cather (The Professor's House), Fitzgerald (Gatsby), Henry Roth (Call It Sleep), Auster (The New York Trilogy), Hustvedt (The Blindfold), Oates (Beasts), Thane Rosenbaum (The Golems of Gotham), Flannery O'Connor (anything!)
And the realization is this: a good chunk of these books were required reading in one of my grad school classes, and if they weren't required reading, they were influenced by a specific prof, a specific group of peers, and were consumed during that particular part of my life (25-26 years old). 

I never realized a whole cross-section of my all-time favorite books were so tightly linked together! As I was thinking back, my conception of and favorites from British literature were highly influenced by my high school classes and my early undergrad years. But those grad school years, that's when my love of American lit really kicked in like crazy. I really began to have a clear understanding of various movements in American lit and realize what some of America's authors have meant to the world. 

As I've gotten older, I've also discovered a sense of America-guilt? Somehow there seems to be an attitude of "you're from America, read something new-to-you." And I do. And I appreciate that approach, but I also really dig writing from my own country. Whether it's old or new, Puritan or Postmodern, I jones for American lit. Unabashedly. Maybe because I've studied it so much? I know the history and the history enriches it? Dunno. Bottom line: loooove it. 

So I think I've decided in the last few minutes (munching on a bbq sandwich) to highlight some of my fave American authors here. I'm not setting a specific schedule, but they'll be popping up from time to time as I feel motivated. I'm not interested in talking about their biographies (though those are interesting) as much as I'm interested in recapping some of my favorite books and stories that they've written and the why and the ways they affected me at that particular point in my life. They span some pretty varied genres and approaches, time periods and aesthetics. And I might even re-read some of them (Cather is definitely due). 

And of course, my question for you:

Who are some of your favorite American authors and which works are your faves?

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