50 States, 50 Novels – Part 10

Virginia – Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron (1951) Published when he was just 26 years old, William Styron’s first novel immediately launched him to literary fame, receiving extremely enthusiastic reviews. Following the dysfunctional Loftis family, this Virginia-set novel borrowed numerous elements from Styron’s childhood hometown in Newport News, Virginia. Washington – The Absolutely […]

The Iceberg Man

In the pantheon of great American writers, Ernest Hemingway is probably the only one whose life was more exciting than his writing. Hemingway saw World War I as an enlisted ambulance driver. He covered the Spanish Civil War, the European theater in World War II, the Normandy Landings and the Liberation of Paris, earning a […]

Reading Writers’ Letters & Diaries: What’s the Draw?

When we are young, our diaries and journals are filled with the silly and the dramatic, heartbreak and humor. Our letters to pen pals and grandmothers are much of the same, recounting our adventures and missed opportunities, sharing our crushes and cringe-worthy moments. But at some point in our lives, our private notes and correspondence […]

Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Horrors of Salem

On images of the Salem Witch Trials in historical romance, horror, and collective memory. Nathaniel Hawthorne famously complained, in the Preface to his novel The Marble Faun (1859), about “the difficulty of writing a romance about a country where there is no shadow, no antiquity, no mystery, no picturesque and gloomy wrong.” It’s easy, and […]

50 States, 50 Novels – Part 9

South Dakota – The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1940) Laura Ingalls Wilder’s much-celebrated Little House series started out entirely in the realm of children’s literature, but as the series progressed it gradually became darker and its focus began to drift more towards adult literature. The Long Winter is right on the cusp of […]