Statue of Dorothy in the Oz Park, Chicago

Somewhere, Over Lake Michigan!

Mention L. Frank Baum’s THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ and instantly you think of Dorothy and Toto, of Kansas and “home,” of ruby red slippers and the Wicked Witch of the West.  There’s that ne’er-do-well wizard and that yellow brick road, too, and Dorothy’s trio of singular friends. What you’d likely never think of is […]

A History of Recognition: Part I

The American Writers Museum is the newest institution recognizing talent and trends in American literature. But there are other ways the U.S. has commemorated and debated its authors and books. Let’s dip into the history of America’s recognition of its unique literature, beginning with a look at the informal – and hard-to-pin – canon of […]

50 States, 50 Novels- Part 5

Massachusetts – Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1911) This tragic tale, told through a foreboding frame narrative, is uncharacteristic of much of Edith Wharton’s most famous work, but is nonetheless one of her most powerful novels. It is set in the fictional town of Starkfield, Massachusetts, which was likely based at least in part on […]

Writing In, and Around, the Box

The “dream within a dream” narrative device of Inception is nothing new—writers have been nestling stories within stories for years. But while literary techniques come and go, few authors have stretched the definition of a novel farther than Mark Z. Danielewski. Twisting the haunted house trope onto its head, Danielewski’s premier novel House of Leaves […]

Forgotten American Classics (The Orchard)

Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson – we are all familiar with the names in the American literary canon, but, in this ongoing series, Christian Kriticos identifies some lesser-known American writings and argues for their placement among the greats… The Orchard by Adele Crockett Robertson It’s funny, but I haven’t remembered it for years. And […]

The Poetry of I: Crash Course on Confessional Poetry

What’s Happening In The Late 1950s-60s? Amid such cultural revelations as the Hula Hoop, LEGOs, color television, and Hitchcock’s Psycho, the Confessional poets were pioneering a new writing style during a time of change. From the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” Speech, to the first televised Presidential debates, […]

The Hollywood Censorship of Tennessee Williams

In the early 1930’s, the lack of inhibition which Hollywood filmmakers had enjoyed up to that point came to a screeching halt with the establishment of the Motion Picture Production Code. The Code–colloquially known as the “Hays Code” –was in effect until the ratings system was established in 1968, and strictly regulated motion picture content, […]