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BS: Greatest American Books

Stu 17 Mar 10 - 10:56 AM
SINSULL 17 Mar 10 - 11:22 AM
SINSULL 17 Mar 10 - 11:23 AM
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SINSULL 17 Mar 10 - 11:25 AM
SINSULL 17 Mar 10 - 11:28 AM
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SINSULL 17 Mar 10 - 11:29 AM
Stu 17 Mar 10 - 11:30 AM
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Fred McCormick 17 Mar 10 - 11:47 AM
Stu 17 Mar 10 - 11:53 AM
Amos 17 Mar 10 - 12:08 PM
Amos 17 Mar 10 - 12:14 PM
Wesley S 17 Mar 10 - 12:20 PM
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Jim Dixon 17 Mar 10 - 12:27 PM
katlaughing 17 Mar 10 - 12:57 PM
Wesley S 17 Mar 10 - 02:13 PM
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Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Mar 10 - 02:50 PM
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Subject: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Stu
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 10:56 AM

I'm sat here wondering what the greatest American books ever are. I'm talking about books that get to the heart of the American dream, the American nightmare, the sou of the people and the essence of the country.

I'm interested in anything from novels to factual, from histories to road trips, from beats to suits. I want opinions on the obvious and the obscure, on the bigger picture and the smaller picture. From the wild west to the wildest flights of fantasy, the light ad the dark, within and without, let's hear about it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:22 AM

To Kill A Mockingbird.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:23 AM

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
Tom Sawyer


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:24 AM

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:25 AM

Andersonville


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:28 AM

Atlas Shrugged
The Fountainhead

Although there will be objections.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:29 AM

The Scarlet Letter


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:29 AM

Think and Grow Rich


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Stu
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:30 AM

Why objections to those to Sinsull?


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:34 AM

Ayn Rand's philosophy is despised by many. Read Atlas Shrugged and decide for yourself.

The Jungle - Sinclair Lewis
All of Hemingway:
The Sun Also Rises
The Old Man and The Sea


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:37 AM

The Sound and the Fury


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:40 AM

Moby Dick
Billy Budd


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:40 AM

From the left, the collected poems of e.e. cummings, and William James.

Really, though, it is something like asking what the best colors in the spectrum are.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:47 AM

The Grapes of Wrath


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Stu
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 11:53 AM

"Really, though, it is something like asking what the best colors in the spectrum are."

Not really, no.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 12:08 PM

What? You disagree with my opinion, Jack?? Oh, fie!!! LOL

Perhaps I should expand on it--there are a very large number of different facets to the American experience. There are books that touch on all of them, but some are less famous than others. "On the Road" must qualify as well as "Howl", alongside of the industrial exposes of Frank Norris, for example. Many of these aspects are captured in songs but not so well in books--"Buffalo Skinners", "Old Man River", "High-Chin Bob" and others come to mind.

Would the fictional westerns of Louis L'Amour, or the Golden Age of Sci Fi from Heinlein or Asimov, qualify? I would think they certainly capture a portion of the American heart. Ray Bradbury certainly does.
The American experience is a choir of tenthousand voices, some squawkier than others, to be sure, but voices nonethe less.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 12:14 PM

OR Upton Sinclair:

""Realize it! Realize it! Realize that out upon the plains of Manchuria tonight two hostile armies are facing each other — that now, while we are seated here, a million human beings may be hurled at each other's throats, striving with the fury of maniacs to tear each other to pieces! And this in the twentieth century, nineteen hundred years since the Prince of Peace preached as divine, and here two armies of men are rending and tearing each other like wild beasts of the forest! Philosophers have reasoned, prophets have denounced, poets have wept and pleaded — and still this hideous Monster roams at large! We have schools and colleges, newspapers and books; we have searched the heavens and the earth, we have weighed and probed and reasoned — and all to equip men to destroy each other! We call it War, and pass it by — but do not put me off with platitudes and conventions — come with me, come with me — realize it! See the bodies of men pierced by bullets, blown into pieces by bursting shells! Hear the crunching of the bayonet, plunged into human flesh; hear the groans and the shrieks of agony, see the faces of men crazed by pain of a man. This blood is still steaming — it was driven by a human heart! Almighty God! and this goes on — it is systematic, organized, premeditated! And we know it, and read of it, and take it for granted; our papers tell of it, and the presses are not stopped — our churches know of it, and do not close their doors — the people behold it, and do not rise up in horror and revolution!""


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Wesley S
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 12:20 PM

On The Road

Lonesome Dove

Gone With The Wind

Bound for Glory

In Cold Blood

And perhaps with the greatest American books we don't even need to mention the authors name? We already know it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Wesley S
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 12:22 PM

Catcher in the Rye


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 12:27 PM

Catch-22


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 12:57 PM

I grow tired of lists of the same old "classics," even though I love most of them, so, here are a few others that might not be included very often:

The Voice of Bugle Ann - McKinley Cantor

The Cossack and the Cowboy Cowboy and the Cossack (Thanks, Wesley. You're right!)

Louis L'Amour's Walking Drum

Anything of Badger Clark's

Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart

My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, & Green Grass of Wyoming - Mary O'Hara


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Wesley S
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 02:13 PM

Not to be picky Kat but I believe that one was called "The Cowboy and the Cossack".

Of course - maybe we're talking about different books. A sequel maybe?


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 02:15 PM

Anna Quindlin's One True Thing and Black and Blue.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 02:48 PM

Black Beauty

The Borrowers

Stuart Little


I had better stop. But I would point out that the OP asked for views, not just lists.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 02:50 PM

Archie and Mehitabel, by Don Marquis.

Across the Prairies, by Kendall


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: J-boy
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 02:55 PM

The Killer Angels


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 03:07 PM

Up from Slavery. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Wesley S
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 03:49 PM

Waldens Pond


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Stu
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 03:54 PM

"Would the fictional westerns of Louis L'Amour, or the Golden Age of Sci Fi from Heinlein or Asimov, qualify?"

Good point Amos, and I concede my question was rather er, fuzzy. Probably not so much the sci-fi, as I've read cartloads over the years so unless it was really special I'm not so sure. I'll look up the westerns though.

Books like On The Road are what I'm talking about, or Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, The New York Trilogy etc. Road trips are a definite favourite though.

As for Upton Sinclair - I like that!


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 04:15 PM

Mists of Avalon

Tramp Abroad

The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

Crow and Weasel by Barry Lopez (Actually almost anything by him, but esp. this one.)

Horses I Have Known written & illustrated by Will James (a real cowboy)

Sky People - a very good non-fiction book about the Arapaho written by a tribal elder last name "Shakespeare."

Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie (and several others by him)


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Eiseley
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 04:50 PM

I love:
Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather (Southwest
Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner (West_
All the Strange Hours, by Loren Eiseley (beautiful autobiography)
Abraham Lincoln biography, by Carl Sandburg (eloquent biography)
Penrod, by Booth Tarkington (growing up in Indiana)
Blue Willow, by Doris Gates (Depression era)
The Art of Eating, by MFK Fisher (Witty and mouth-watering)
Loving Allis Chalmers, by Ralph Thurston (Idaho sage)
January's Sparrow, by Patricia Polacco (Powerful book about freedom)
Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli (diversity)

I think each of these describes something utterly beautiful about the American experience and mind. But there are SO many more.

Eiseley


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: 3refs
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 05:21 PM

I think it's kind of funny that the first two books mentioned are about to be banned by the Toronto school board!
Others that have been listed I liked too!

The Carpetbaggers.
The God Father
The Exorcist
A Stone for Danny Fisher(or King Creole with Elvis)


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 05:35 PM

Moby Dick
Billy Budd
Battle-Pieces (Melville)
USA trilogy
The Naked and the Dead
Leaves of Grass
The Mysterious Stranger
Roughing It

Already mentioned: The Grapes of Wrath. Catch-22.

I'll think of a few more. Unless somebody beats me to it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 05:41 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki_Zen_and_the_Art_of_Motorcycle_Maintenance by Robert Pirsig


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 06:52 PM

The Education Of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L**A*N

The Groucho Letters

The R.Crumb Handbook


Just a slightly different viewpoint.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: kendall
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 07:02 PM

Many of my favorites have been named. I would add:
Country of the pointed firs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,SINS
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 08:01 PM

A Prayer for Owen Meanie and a number of others by John Irving.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Devon
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 08:05 PM

Mechanics (or any of its prequels and sequels) by Jaime Hernandez


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: pattyClink
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 09:26 PM

Two Years Before the Mast

Jubilee


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 12:50 AM

Mystified by inclusion above of Black Beauty, which has remained unchallenged: ~~ one of classics of Victorian British children's literature, set entirely in England, the work of Norfolk born and London educated Anna Sewell; whatever is it doing in this thread?

Surprised also by only one mention of what must surely be one of the world's greatest, most humane, novels, the incomparable Huckleberry Finn.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Bert
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 01:12 AM

Wot no Zane Grey?


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: mrdux
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 01:59 AM

in addition to lots of the above

Naked Lunch (Burroughs)
Nova Express (Burroughs)
Herzog (Saul Bellow)
Letters from the Earth (Twain)
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories (Norman Maclean)
Vietnam (Stanley Karnow)
A Religious Orgy in Tennessee (H. L. Mencken on the Scopes trial, some serious Americana)
any list of Great American Books has to include a collection of stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe
and, sure, i'll mention Huckleberry Finn again.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: kendall
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 04:24 AM

Up from slavery.
Seven days in May


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 04:38 AM

Dispatches - Michael Herr

Vietam war correspondant's memiors - It's a bit too smugly hip stylistically for me, but influential.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Rapparee
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 09:15 AM

Anything by Mark Twain, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Patrick McManus.

Black Boy.
The March of Folly.

Anything in my personal library.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 09:25 AM

As I Lay Dying..Faulkner, A Confederacy of Dunces..Toole, I am not sure if the following would qualify as "Americab"..but it is one of the best autobigraphies ever.."Speak Memory" by Nabokov.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 09:26 AM

Truman Capote In Cold Blood

Henry Miller Tropic of Capricorn


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: kendall
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 09:30 AM

Peculiar Institution

Strange Fruit

both about slavery.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 09:33 AM

The Color Purple


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 09:36 AM

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood might sneak in - not your classic scifi.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 09:55 AM

Margaret Atwood is Canadian..so I think does not qualify here.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Wesley S
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 10:36 AM

Just about ANY Larry McMurty book. I've already mentioned Lonesome Dove. But "Terms of Endearment", "Anything for Billy","Boone's Lick", "The Last Picture Show", ect, ect.

Cormac McCarty too. "The Road", "No Country for Old Men", his Border trilogy...


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Stu
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 04:45 AM

Thanks very much to everyone for the suggestions - plenty to be going on with here!


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 08:09 AM

"Sometimes a Great Notion"

Best novel ever written by an American: my opinion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: alanabit
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 11:38 AM

Huckleberry Finn is probably still the funniest - and ultimately most moving - novel I have ever read.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 02:11 PM

Yeah,Huckleberry Finn might be the very best American book. It would certainly be one of the best few.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: mkebenn
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 05:49 AM

All the King's Men


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 01:19 PM

"Huckleberry Finn", for sure. It's a masterpiece. So too "Tom Sawyer".   Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass". The series of "private eye" adventures written by Raymond Chandler about the fictional private eye, Philip Marlowe. A number of Louis L'Amour's best adventure stories such as, for one, "Jubal Sackett".

By the way, Mark Twain's greatest book, in his OWN opinion, and in mine also is:

"Joan of Arc"

(Though it is not a book that in any way relates to Americana, it is a great book written by a great American author, and it's a shame that it's not better known, as I suspect it would be had it been written about an American life, instead of the life of a French peasant girl and a saint from the 1400s. In Mark Twain's day, France was still gratefully remembered by Americans as the courageous ally which had assisted the American revolutionaries in attaining independence from the British Empire. Americans' view of France then was radically different from the common view of France now. The French were seen then as a heroic nation both militarily and in terms of their political and social ideals.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 04:16 PM

Mark Twain's books. I loved "Letters to the Earth". Twain equals or excels Faulkner in my opinion.

I am a fan of Asimov "The Foundation series".

Carl Sagan as an author, a voice of reason.

I love the poetry of Langston Hughes.

Theodore Dreiser has to be up there on the list. "An American Tragedy"

Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

Sinclair Lewis "Babbit", "Elmer Gantry", "Arrowsmith"

Gore Vidal, another American voice of reason.

"The Souls of Black Folk", by W. E. B. DuBois.

"People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn

"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (controversial) by Dee Brown

Walt Whitman's poetry. "Leaves of Grass"

Jack London as a novelist for "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang".

How about Ernest Thompson Seaton and Pearl Buck?


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 04:55 PM

A few more:

Native Son

A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Black Like Me

The Confessions of Nat Turner

The Red Badge of Courage (kind of on the fence about this one)

Poems of Robert Frost


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 04:56 PM

Their Eyes Were Watching God - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a 1937 novel and the best-known work by African American writer Zora Neale Hurston.

They Tell Me of a Home by Daniel Black.

Incredible page-turners! Two of the most intense and important (to me) books I have read in recent years.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Fred Bailey
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 11:09 PM

"The Day on Fire" by James Ramsey Ullman -- a fictionalized bio of Rimbaud


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 01:10 AM

Indeed Dreiser ~~ Sister Carrie as well as the incomparable An American Tragedy

Asimov in sf {I, Robot series as well as Foundation books} ~~ also, in sf, Philip K Dick, Robert Heinlein, Fredric Brown...

Nobody seems to have mentioned Henry James ~~ surely Washington Square, Portrait Of A Lady, The Ambassadors, The Aspern papers, The Spoils Of Poynton, The Wings Of The Dove...


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 07:19 AM

Anything by Jack Vance - a master of fantasy - the fantasist's fantasist!


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 07:33 AM

Sometimes a Great Notion--the best American novel--and I'm sticking to it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 11:30 AM

In addition to "All the King's Men" several of Robert Penn Warren's books are real American masterpieces: Night Riders, and The Cave, come t mind. They capture the life of the early 20th century South brilliantly and with depth.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 11:34 AM

A Confederacy of Dunces

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: ichMael
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 08:21 PM

Thomas Wolfe's novels. Look Homeward Angel, You Can't go Home Again, Of Time and the River, and so on. Faulkner called Wolfe the greatest American writer.

Maxwell Perkins was his editor. Perkins was also Hemingway's editor. And F. Scott Fitgerald's.

Perkins--The Great Gatsby, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Look Homeward Angel.......


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 08:50 PM

Earth Abides

by George R. Stewart


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 09:21 PM

Fans of "Look Homeward Angel" might enjoy Wolfe's original version, before Perkins started chopping things out of it. It was published not long ago under the original title, "O Lost."

Speaking of Thomas Wolfe reminds me of one the greatest satires of recent American life, "Bonfire of the Vanities," by the unrelated *Tom* Wolfe.

The movie version, by the way, was godawful. Read the book.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: SINSULL
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 09:34 PM

Bonfire of the Vanities is a treasure - the Lemon Tarts and X-Rays, the scene with the packing peanuts,characters all too close to real life New Yorkers - a brilliant satire.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 10:57 PM

In recent history, "A Man in Full" is another really great accomplishment.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,CrazyEddie
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 04:32 AM

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest   Ken Kesey

Most of John Steinbeck's books

Catch 22


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 10:02 AM

I usually will finish a once-started book, but when I began reading Bonfire of the Vanities I got to about page 15 to 20 or so, and decided I intensely disliked the lead character, and figured I had better things to read, better ways to spend my time than to read that book.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 10:15 AM

Interesting that the "classic" C19 American novelists ~~~

{Fenimore Cooper? Hawthorne? Alcott? Melville? [has anyone mentioned Deerslayer,Mohicans; Scarlet Letter; Little Women; Moby Dick, Billy Budd?]}

~~~ do not appear to be figuring greatly on this thread.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: mkebenn
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 10:46 AM

Moby Dick..Sinsull 3/17


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 11:32 AM

I'd vote for Billy Budd, and Moby Dick, and Scarlet Letter, and Little Women. James Fenimore Cooper strikes me as a terrible pastiche of misrepresentations.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Gern
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 07:42 PM

Twain has aptly summarized Fenimore Cooper for all the world to laugh at. I'll will be happy to object to Ayn Rand's titles mentioned earlier in this thread. Regardless of your take on her philosophy/politics, her fiction is transparent propaganda with comic book characters. For America's greatest book, I might suggest Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln. But Moby Dick, Leaves of Grass, To Kill A Mockingbird and The Sound And The Fury are also outstanding.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 08:09 PM

I wasn't around when this thread got started the other day and by the time I read it, most of my favorites had already been listed. But this thread did inspire me to do something that I had meant to do for a long time.

The first evening that Karen and I met we talked some about books. When it came to a favorite book and movie we enthusiastically agreed and spent some time discussing it. For those of you who don't know, by the end of that first evening I knew with absolute certainty that I was going to marry her if she'd have me. On our next date I asked and she accepted. She is the greatest thing that ever happened in my life and though I didn't know it then, I was marrying my best friend.

So this thread inspired me to go to Abe's Books and find exactly the right presentation/gift grade copy I could afford........and she received it today. We both hugged and cried a bit. Funny how something as pedestrian as a book can also become that special.

Harper Lee may have had only one book in her but To Kill A Mockingbird is the work of a hundred thousand lifetimes. It may be American but I cannot believe that any book surpasses it in truth and poetic beauty. It is a marvelous, soul rending, work of the true writer's art that takes you in from the first words with descriptions that bring all your senses to work in the imagination. I have never encountered better IMNSHO.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,bankley
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 03:38 PM

"You Can Lead a Politician to Water but You Can't Make Him Think"

Kinky Freidman... (written after his run for the governor of Texas)
the 1st independent candidate to get on the ballot since San Houston..


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: robomatic
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 04:20 PM

Sometimes A Great Notion        Ken Kesey

All The King's Men                by Robert Penn Warren

The River Why                        David James Duncan (just learned it's coming out as a movie this year)

Cold Sassy Tree                       Olive Ann Burns

Leaves of Grass                        Walt Whitman

The Sea Wolf                        Jack London

Innocents Abroad                Mark Twain

Complete Short Stories                Mark Twain

and two famous American books to denigrate: "Scarlet Letter" was to me tedious and turgid; "Moby Dick" though wonderful of setting and intriguing as plot, was a disappointment in pace and language to read. one of the very few books I've not finished.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: DougR
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 04:59 PM

Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription, William F. Buckley
Courage and Consequence, Karl Rove
Liberty and Tyranny, Mark R. Levin
Courting Disaster, Marc A. Thiessen

DougR


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 06:11 PM

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thomm Hartmann


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Wesley S
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 06:43 PM

Reading Spaws post I'm reminded that when I was single and went out with a woman for the first time I always hoped that I could steal some time in her apartment to check out what books she had on her shelf. I always figured it told a lot more about her than she would reveal in conversation.

And if there were no books at all? Forget it! That was a deal breaker.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 08:02 PM

The Wisdom of Insecurity

by Allan Watts


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 08:24 PM

Black Beauty and The Borrowers?

Why not include such equally "American" books as War and Peace and Don Quixote?
.............

Lake Wobegon Days (etc) is what I tend to read anytime I feel tempted to feel pissed off at the USA, and need to get things back in proportion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:10 PM

JAmes Dickey is the Poet Laureate of Georgia but he wrote an excellent character study novel. Sadly it is better known in movie form and then for only one horrific scene and one musical scene.

If you wnat a good read with a great character study, forget the movie, open up your mind and read "Deliverance." Oddly enough there is also something in it that was inflential in marrying Karen. The main character describes meeting his wife and that he saw some tiny spark deep within her, A tiny flame but the one he had unknowingly been looking for......and when he found it, he married it.

Exactly.

Good book. His other novel is a POS.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: DougR
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:42 PM

McGrath: Are you evern not "pissed off" at the USA?

DougR


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 12:01 PM

So Jack, any updates on your reading from this list?


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 01:29 PM

I have acquired a paperback copy of Human Natures by Paul Ehrlich (known 40 years ago for "Population Bomb)...and I have been browsing thru it, trying to decide if I'm up to reading it cover to cover.

As far as I am concerned, this is as good an explanation of evolution as one can get....along with insight as to how the 'sciences' of biology, chemistry & anthropology help explain just what makes us human, and the resultant problems of being such a unique species of animal.

Yes...Ehrlich still suggests that we are in serious danger from our "nature" and the resultant population increases, but you CAN read this simply to clarify the processes which brought us here.

This book was published in 2000, and obviously there have been many new discoveries in Anthropology and such in 10 years, but with this book as basis, it is reasonably easy to integrate new data with the general principles outlined.

No one who reads this with an open mind can seriously contest the major findings in evolution and the implications of the analysis.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 01:31 PM

Wake of the Red Witch J.London
Something of Value Leon Uris


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 07:16 PM

An American Tragedy
Sister Carrie

A Confederacy of Dunces   !!!!! Although this may not fit the OP's description of stature.    But an absolutely wonderful novel!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Janie
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 07:35 PM

Anyone listening to the assorted NPR pieces re: To Kill A Mockingbird that have been running all week?


I don't think I saw mention of The Color Purple by Alice Walker.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Rapparee
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 07:39 PM

Huckleberry Finn
Life on the Mississippi
Roughing It
Killer Angels
Catch-22
A World Lit Only By Fire
Goodbye Darkness
Cien Años de Soledad


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 07:56 PM

Ship of Fools Catherine Ann Porter


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Janie
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 08:09 PM

The journals of Lewis and Clark.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: kendall
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 08:12 PM

I don't know if it's an American book or not, but Manila Galleon is a great story. It's about how the British robbed Spanish treasure ships in the Pacific. Written by F. Van Wyke Mason.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 10:41 PM

I would inject anything by Barbara Kingsolver, who deserves a Pulitzer.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Riginslinger
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 11:18 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sometimes_a_Great_Notion_(novel)


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Janie
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 11:55 PM

A Species of Eternity, by Joseph Kastner is a series of biographical sketches of the early white naturalists who explored the continent, collecting and identifying so much of the flora and fauna of the new world, bringing it into history. Several of them died violent deaths in the process, and the stories of their explorations is also a history of the encroachment of Europeans into the continent and into the native cultures that were already here.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Janie
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 11:56 PM

Whoohoo! 100 quite by accident with that last post.

Not great literature, but one of the greatest series of American books in my experience, is the Peterson Field Guide series.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Janet
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 12:22 AM

Re: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: someone indicated it should not be in this list because she is Canadian. I'd like to remind people that Canadians are Americans as are Mexicans and people from Central and South American countries. This thread is titled Greatest American Books, not Greatest Books by Authors from the US.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amergin
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 01:56 AM

Penthouse Letters....


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 09:46 AM

Lots of good suggestions in this thread. I'd second the various mentions of Ken Kesey's two novels, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion. If Kesey weren't already remembered primarily as the leader of the Merry Pranksters, he'd be remembered as a great American novelist. Both novels celebrate individual freedom and rebellion against overbearing institutions, which is a quintessentially American theme.

Even if it was intended primarily as a poke in the eye to his liberal friends, Doug's listing of Karl Rove's book blows my mind.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 10:11 AM

Yes, Guest, "Sometimes a Great Notion" is being compared to "Absolom, Absolom" by some literary critics.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 12:38 PM

Sorry, that "guest" two posts up was me.

I'm afraid I've never read any Faulkner, Riginslinger, so the comparison is lost on me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 12:43 PM

Several American Greats:

The Sun Also Rises
The Old Man and the Sea
The Great Gatsby
The Cave
All the King's Men

Almost anything R.P. Warren wrote, and the same for Mark Twain.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 12:44 PM

Well, Whistle Stop, the subject matter is quite different. I think the comparison is made on the quality of the prose style. Personally, I love Faulkner, and I think Kesey is the only one to come close to him.
            Sadly, Kesey's later stuff didn't live up to the level of Notion and Coo Coo's Nest. I'm not sure why, but my theory is that once a writer thinks he/she has discovered the "answer," there's not point in seeking it any longer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: meself
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 12:49 PM

Point of clarification: I am a Canadian, as is Margaret Atwood. I am not an American, and neither is she.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 01:00 PM

That's close enough!


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Midchuck
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 04:08 PM

Sadly, Kesey's later stuff didn't live up to the level of Notion and Coo Coo's Nest. I'm not sure why, but my theory is that once a writer thinks he/she has discovered the "answer," there's not point in seeking it any longer.

I think it's reasonable to assume that drugs had something to do with it. Not provable or disprovable - but reasonable to assume.

I agree that Sometimes a Great Notion is one of the best.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 04:34 PM

Actually, I think the drug that did him in was Christianity. A lot of folks have trouble withdrawing from that one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Joe_F
Date: 08 Jul 10 - 10:09 PM

U.S.A. (trilogy by John Dos Passos)
A Death in the Family by James Agee (get the recent, uncut version)
Captains Courageous (an American book, tho Kipling was not an American author)
The Ninth Wave by Eugene Burdick
The Revolt of Mamie Stover by William Bradford Huie
Syndic by C. M. Kornbluth

I second Art Thieme's nomination of Earth Abides.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Deda
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 12:03 AM

I recently read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Very American, and quite extraordinary -- not sure if it's a best, but it's very good.

I second All the King's Men (incredible portrait of ambition and corruption); Huckleberry Finn; Grapes of Wrath; Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass (just finished it recently, amazing book!). I agree that Ayn Rand didn't write good novels, she wrote propaganda wrapped in a plot. I also agree that Moby Dick is too hard to read to be truly great; simplicity is underrated.

Poetry has to include Emily Dickinson, in addition to ee cummings -- I think between the two of them they transformed poetry forever.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 08:00 AM

A book that taught me much about America before I actually went there is 'Travels With Charley', by Steinbeck. Many transatlantic visits later have confirmed to me just what a true book it is. I too wave the flag for 'Grapes of Wrath', a great book, film, and song - Woody's 'Tom Joad'. I can also recommend 'American Diner' by R.J.S. Gutman and Elliott Kaufman, a history of my kind of Americana. Let's not forget the incomparable work of Studs Terkel. Ogden Nash rings my bells too. Burl.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 08:29 AM

Moby Dick hard to read? Really?

Hemmingway was never one of my favorites. Someone said of him, He has never used a word that would prompt one to go to a dictionary.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: dwditty
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 08:35 AM

Slaughterhouse Five - Vonnegut


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: the Folk Police
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 08:47 AM

A fourth vote for the marvellous "A Confederacy of Dunces".

Carson McCullers - "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"

The Collected Short Stories of Flannery O'Connor

More recently:

Harry Crews - "The Gospel Singer" and "Feast of Snakes"

Madison Smartt Bell - "Soldier's Joy"

Virtually anything by T.C. Boyle, but start with "World's End"

Chris Offutt: "The Same River Twice"


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 09:35 AM

"Huckleberry Finn" is the obvious first choice and speaking of Mark Twain, the first volume of his autobiography is due out in November. He had dictated his life story during the his last years but the mandated that it not be published until 100 years after his death in 1910.
    I only saw one mention of Capote's "In Cold Blood", the prototype of modern crime writing.
    "Lolita" was written by a Russian emigree but Nabokov always referred to it as his American novel.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Bettynh
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 09:43 AM

All fiction? I read a lot of non-fiction:

Aldo Leopold - A Sand County Almanac

Edward Abbey - Desert Solitaire (and others)

John McPhee - Rising from the Plains (and many others)

Bernd Heinrich - The Trees in my Forest (and others)

john Muir - assorted short pieces

Henry David Thoreau - The Maine Woods, Cape Cod, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

Sue Hubbell - A Country Year

As for fiction, anything by Annie Proulx or John Steinbeck.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: DonMeixner
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 12:56 PM

Miracle At Philadelphia    Catherine Drinker Porter

To Kill a Mocking Bird

The Yearling

The Three Harbors   F. Van Wyck Mason

It Can't Happen Here

Band of Brothers Stephen Ambrose

The Voyage of Discovery

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Heinlein

The Adventures of a Wandering Man Louis L'Amour

Don


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 01:41 PM

God, I love to read. Lots of this stuff already. But thanks for some of the previously unknown suggestions. BTW, I enjoy Grisham for quick entertainment, but watch out for "The Innocent Man". I can't finish it. Nonfic. true story; every cuppla pages I want to throw it across the room. Such is against God's Law. Books are holy--MUST be treated with respect--but the horrors chronicled in this 1 compel fury. Try "The Painted House". Good read. Different trajectory than his other novels.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 05:28 PM

It seems to me like most of the folks who like John Grisham books are women--am I wrong about that?


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 05:55 PM

There's maybe another one coming along soon. I see that Mark Twain's autobiography is due to be published soon. He apparently said it couldn't be published until he was 100 years dead.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 10 Jul 10 - 10:31 AM

Just finished Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna. One of the really great books of our time.

Highly recommended. Well-crafted, sensitive, full of beauty, depth and interesting characters and plot. She's a master of the craft.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: kendall
Date: 10 Jul 10 - 04:52 PM

Ring, I like John Grisham books too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Riginslinger
Date: 10 Jul 10 - 05:38 PM

I've read a few of them. I liked "A Time to Kill."


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: kendall
Date: 10 Jul 10 - 07:54 PM

I've read about 8 of his books but they all have that same theme; lawyers. I'm now into Patrick O'Brian.

I'd like to add "Country of the Pointed Firs" by Sara Orne Jewett. Willa Catha said that is one of the best books ever written.

That's the one I helped to narrate for public radio with Julie Harris. Odetta did the theme music.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Riginslinger
Date: 10 Jul 10 - 08:26 PM

That's pretty impressive comany, Kendall.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: mousethief
Date: 10 Jul 10 - 10:30 PM

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 02:41 AM

It is indeed Ring. She gave me an autographed copy of the book, and commented on the lovely "Elijah Tilley" I did.It is a treasured bit of the past.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 01:09 PM

Most everything by Cormac McCarthy


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 11:00 AM

Margaret Atwood is indeed Canadian. I believe that Canadians, mexicans and central Americans do not refer to themselves as American, nor should they. They refer to themselves by nationality not by continent of Residence. Am I correct? I think that when we say American in this context we mean people of the Us.
Perhaps we need a thread on Great Canadian books, I believe there are many and people are not as aware of them as they should be. However, as a guest I believe that I am not permitted to start such a thread..it would be interesting. I do very much enjoy these threads as they give me lots of new authrors to explore..thanks all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 11:24 AM

"Margaret Atwood is indeed Canadian."

Sure.
And the OP also specified novels *about* the US (of America) including fantasy. But I think most posters have forgotten that.

Atwood's novel is a dystopian vision of a near future, set somewhere in what once was the USA - in particular we imagine it must be somewhere in the bible belt. It fits the OP's request for: "books that get to the heart of the American dream, the American nightmare, the soul of the people and the essence of the country. ... I'm interested in anything ... From the wild west to the wildest flights of fantasy, the light and the dark, within and without,"

Wiki:
"The Handmaid's Tale is set in the near future in the Republic of Gilead, a country formed within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America. It was founded by a racist, male chauvinist, nativist, theocratic-organized military coup as an ideologically-driven response to the pervasive ecological, physical and social degradation of the country. Beginning with a staged terrorist attack (blamed on Muslim terrorists) that kills the President, a movement calling itself the "Sons of Jacob" launched a revolution under the pretext of restoring order, ousting Congress, suspending the U.S. Constitution. Given electronic banking they were quickly able to freeze the assets of all women and other "undesirables" in the country, stripping their rights away. The new theocratic military dictatorship, styled "The Republic of Gilead", moved quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical, compulsorily-Christian regime of Old Testament-inspired social and religious orthodoxy among its newly-created social classes."

I think that fits the remit quite well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: meself
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 01:06 PM

There was a side-issue re: Margaret Atwood, which did not concern the novel in question but whether or not she, along with the other citizens of Canada and Central America, could by some peculiar definition be rightly and sensibly called "American". (The answer being, ONLY according to a peculiar and idiosyncratic definition.)

(Btw, Margaret Atwood in her day was an "outspoken" Canadian nationalist, and no doubt would have been insistent that she is not American by any definition. Haven't heard much from her on such matters in the past twenty years or so.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 06:40 AM

I am sure that Margaret Atwood would have no problems about describing herself as an American in the same sense that people in Europe describe themselves as Europeans, people in Africa call themselves Africans, and people in Asia use the term Asians - which of course is a perfectly valid sense.

This involves no confusion, since there is no country in Europe, Africa or Asia were the name of a continent is used preferentially for its own inhabitant. America is the only continent where that has happened.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 08:01 AM

Knowing what I know of Margaret Atwood, I am certain that she would object very much to being referred to as an American, as would most people who are Canadian, or Mexican for that matter. I think that it is generally accepted, in North America, that "American" refers to citzens of the US. No matter how convoluted the logic Margaret Atwood cannot possibly be called anything but a Canadian author.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 10:38 AM

How about The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier? Anything by Cormier is worth a look I'd say.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 10:47 AM

How about the House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.. a wonderful book.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: meself
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 02:12 PM

Perhaps we are being divided by a common language again. In North America, an "American" is unequivocally a citizen of the U.S. - except, possibly, in some specialized discourse such as that of archeology. A resident of the continent of North America is otherwise a "North American". A resident of the continent of South America is a "South American". The notion that there should be one term to distinguish the residents of both continents from the rest of humanity would seem bizarre to most North and South Americans, I think it safe to say.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 05:14 PM

Does Central America count as a continent?


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Riginslinger
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 10:17 PM

It should. The geographers won't see it that way, but the anthropologists very well might.

             By the way, does anyone know of a source to get "One Hundred Years of Solitude" on tape or CD? I know it's important, but I'm finding it very hard to read.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 10:37 PM

Moby Dick
Huckleberry Finn
the Great Gatsby
A Confederacy of Dunces
Forrest Gump
On the Road/Big Sur(flip sides of the Beat dream/nightmare)
Look Homeward, Angel
An American Tragedy
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Catch 22
The Grapes of Wrath


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: mousethief
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 10:44 PM

This involves no confusion, since there is no country in Europe, Africa or Asia were the name of a continent is used preferentially for its own inhabitant. America is the only continent where that has happened.

"America" is not a continent. The continents in the western hemisphere are North America and South America. There is no continent called "America." The continents considered together are referred to as "the Americas".

Does Central America count as a continent?

It is not separate from Mexico (which is universally considered to be in North America) by anything other than an imaginary line (national borders). It is a political entity. If Mexico had at some time in the past absorbed all the countries we now call "Central America", and extended down to what is now the border between Ecuador and Panama, the term "Central America" wouldn't exist at all.

In contrast, the boundary between European Russia and Asian Russia (aka Siberia) is the Ural Mountains, which form an actual physical boundary: therefore it is not a political boundary but a physical one. But it's not water so it's questionable whether the two are separate continents; hence the (relatively new) term, "Eurasia".


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: meself
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 11:10 PM

As far as I know, Central America is part of North America. However, if Central Americans do not wish to be called North Americans, I'm quite happy to refer to them exclusively as 'Central Americans'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: kendall
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 05:43 AM

And it all came about because an influential guy named Amerigo Vesputchi talked someone into naming the new world after him. He never even set foot here!
I've always thought it should have been named Colombo, or Ericsonia


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 07:24 AM

"New World" was a better name than either. With the people living there being known as "New Worlders".

Newfoundland had the right idea there.
..............................

No one's mentioned Henry James, I think. But maybe he doesn't count as American.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: ollaimh
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 03:52 PM

leaves of grass by walt whitman

would modern poetry even exist without walts brilliancy and art?


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 03:56 PM

"No one's mentioned Henry James, I think. But maybe he doesn't count as American."


             I don't know, he's made the scene in every American Literature class I've ever taken.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 01:46 PM

Henry James was an American by birth but British by choice. He moved to England at the age of 33 and remained there till his death 40 years later, eventually becoming a British subject.
   As to Kendall's assertion that "it all came about because an influential guy named Amerigo Vesputchi(sic) talked someone into naming the new world after him. He never even set foot here!" it's simply not true. When Martin Waldseemuller printed his world map in 1507 Vespucci's accounts of his voyages to the new world had recently been published and Waldseemuller might have called the lands America in his honor.* But there is no evidence that the two had ever met or corresponded in any way. At the time of his writings there were critics who accused Vespucci of trying to steal Columbus' thunder but Columbus himself never thought so. I copied this from Wikipedia: Columbus never thought Vespucci had tried to steal his laurels, and in 1505 he wrote his son, Diego, saying of Amerigo, "It has always been his wish to please me; he is a man of good will; fortune has been unkind to him as to others; his labors have not brought him the rewards he in justice should have." Vespucci's importance was that he was the first to recognize that the discoveries were in reality a new continent. Columbus still thought it was the East Indies and the Asian mainland.

*There is an alternate theory that the Americas were not named for Amerigo Vespucci at all, but rather a Welshman named Richard Amerike or Ameryk who sponsored John Cabot's voyages and owned his flagship. This theory has it that the Bristol sailors had started calling it Amerike's land, latinized as America, and that Waldseemuller had heard this term and mistakenly assumed it referred to Amerigo Vespucci. The strength of this claim is that it would have been common to name new lands after the rich sponsor of an expedition and it would not have been customary to name discoveries after someones first name, Amerigo. If the mapmaker had wanted to honor Vespucci he'd have called the lands Vespuccia. I mean we don't have our nations capital in the District of Christopher or my state capital in Christopher, Ohio. I don't say I buy this theory outright but it is an interesting alternative.


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 02:12 PM

Grat. So, given the American propensity for shortening names, we would be the United States of Vespa?   Brrrmmmmmmmmmm....


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Greatest American Books
From: Riginslinger
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 07:10 PM

Yeah, but Italians are kind of weird that way, I mean, think of Dante.


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