50 States, 50 Novels – Part 8

Oklahoma – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939) Although Steinbeck’s novel traverses several states, it gave human faces to a group that, at the time, were disparagingly referred to simply as “Okies.” Steinbeck’s novel also serves as a lament for the Oklahoma landscape, torn up by monstrous machines, and the changing face of […]

A Hemingway Panel

At Home With Hemingway

In the middle of summer on the beautiful campus of Dominican University in Oak Park, Ill., there was a lot of talk of icebergs. But it wasn’t because people wanted to cool off – it was because more than 300 people from 18 countries had gathered for the 17th Biennial International Hemingway Society Conference (co-hosted by […]

The King in Yellow by R. W. Chambers

Books on the Small Screen

Every so often, literature appears outside of literature. The Shakespearean “sleep of death” catalyzes the major events of the film, What Dreams May Come. Homer Simpson daydreams about spending his unemployment by a Waldenesque pond (and journaling about how much he misses TV). A few recent television shows feature particularly thoughtful references to American literature. […]

The Something Wonderful of Cormac McCarthy

If there is a literary late bloomer, it is Cormac McCarthy. For much of his writing career, Cormac lived in obscurity and squalor. His first novel, The Orchard Keeper, was published in 1965. But despite his strong reputation, 30 years later, McCarthy’s books never sold more than 5,000 hardcover copies. That included his Blood Meridian, […]

50 States, 50 Novels – Part 7

New Mexico – Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (1972) One of the cornerstones of Chicano literature, Rudolfo Anaya’s debut novel is an astonishing first person narrative following the life of Antonio, who recounts memories of his childhood in small town New Mexico. New York – The Assistant by Bernard Malamud (1957) New York City […]

5 Spoken Word Poems to Listen to Today

Looking for a healthy dose of word play, rhythm, intense imagery, and engaging showmanship? Look no farther than Spoken Word poetry. It has always been around, but with the emergence of Youtube and other social media platforms, the art form has seen a flurry of new, at times viral, activity. Whether you’re a newcomer Spoken […]

Writers on the Road

Throughout history, Americans have  been known for their desire to discover and explore new places and enjoy new experiences. Never is this aspect of American identity more apparent than in its writers. From travelogues to diaries, American writers have taken pen to paper to record their thoughts and experiences as they traveled through the vast […]

In the Words of America’s Science Writers

Among America’s most valuable authors are a diverse set of science authors – here are excerpted insights from just a few! Rachel Carson (conservationist), Silent Spring We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is […]

American Literary Playlists- Part 1

The creative processes of literary writing and songwriting have always been intertwined. Musicians such as Bob Dylan and Patti Smith have successfully crossed over into the literary realm, winning awards and critical praise for their poetry and autobiographies. Likewise, many famous American writers have expressed musical leanings: both Jack Kerouac and Maya Angelou recorded albums; […]