Classic American Novels To Read This Week

While there are some that have argued that the proliferation of the internet has us reading more, it can not be understated that more doesn’t necessarily equal better.  To put it in insufferable millennial terms, its like eating a whole tray of hot pockets, when you should have had a sensible kale salad.

"Hmm, it tastes like old broccoli and has the consistency of starched cardboard. What is this wonder-food?"

“Hmm, it tastes like old broccoli and has the consistency of starched cardboard. What is this wonder-food?”

Not all health food, however, has to be a chore, sometimes it gets to be something pleasant like berries, or whatever that chia seed stuff is.  Let’s put it like this, if Chaucer is kale, then these great American novels are berries (if that makes sense).

And this is a Salon article.

And this is a Salon article.

A Farewell To Arms

farewell to arms novels

Ernest Hemingway had a habit of writing his experiences in form of his novels with obvious embellishments and literary freedom.  As an ambulance driver on the Italian front during WWI, Hemingway had more than enough to say about the war, having experienced the horror that came with it.

"I read A Million Little Pieces, James Frey, and I side with Oprah."

“I read A Million Little Pieces, James Frey, and I side with Oprah.”

The novel employs Hemingway’s characteristically clipped and terse prose, that largely was influenced by Hemingway’s newspaper work before he began publishing novels.  While it certainly is not the feel good book of the century, it is one that should stick with the reader, unlike the latest fluff piece about whatever show about a big family is popular.

"Up next on TLC: 1000 Rabbits and Counting! Yes, we still call ourselves 'The Learning Channel.'"

“Up next on TLC: 1000 Rabbits and Counting! Yes, we still call ourselves ‘The Learning Channel.'”

The Great Gatsby

gatsby novel

It’s truly a pity that this novel has been relegated to high school classrooms and the latest script doctors that want to make a mockery out of the material.

See Leo, all it takes to win an Oscar is to get mauled by a CGI bear and cry a lot.

See Leo, all it takes to win an Oscar is to get mauled by a CGI bear and cry a lot.

Baz Luhrmann’s insipid film replete with rap-jazz aside, the novel is wonderfully detailed despite not being terribly long, and captures the spirit of the era, with its excesses and the consequences that flow from them.

And yet, strangely, it also made a very boring Robert Redford film.

And yet, strangely, it also made a very boring Robert Redford film.

The Natural

the natural novels 2

Bernard Malamud’s novel is one that has been sadly eclipsed by the movie version, and while the movie is a classic in it’s own right, the saccharine treatment of the material, particularly the ending leaves a lot to be desired.

Between Gatsby and this, it seems like Robert Redford got his career from 20th century literature. Still better than him crying in a sinking boat for two hours.

Between Gatsby and this, it seems like Robert Redford got his career from 20th century literature. Still better than him crying in a sinking boat for two hours.

The novel’s ending is, admittedly, a bit of a downer, but that’s the whole point – the story is supposed to be a parallel to the Arthurian legend.  Think about that next time you see “The Savory Special.”

"The Deus Ex Machina"

“The Deus Ex Machina”

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Brendan