Top 10 Reasons to Visit the American Writers Museum Today

The American Writers Museum was recently voted the top attraction in the state of Illinois by a USA Today 10Best online poll, as well as one of Fodor’s 10 Best New Museums. In honor of that achievement, in no particular order here are the top ten reasons (plus one bonus reason) to visit the American […]

Ways the West Was Won

If there is one unique genre the United States has contributed to world literature, it is the Western. The expansion of the country across the frontier to the Pacific was a defining feature of American history and politics until the end of the 19th Century, and this theme continues to be addressed in American literature […]

Rereading the Work of Shirley Jackson

I have a lot of literary kindred spirits, most of them women. They are authors who are not necessarily similar to me in writing style or subject matter, but for whom I feel a kind of emotional connection. These are women writers whom I wish I could have over for coffee, to pick their brains, […]

The Relevant Novel

So-called Great American Novels examine the American identity, refusing to merely entertain. Yet notably few top bestsellers’ lists. They are a small sliver of an already pressed industry fighting with TV, the Internet, movies, and our smartphones for attention and relevancy. How can the next great novel be relevant in modern America when it’s competing […]

Against the Odds: Three American Novels of Survival

As I was cleaning out my bookshelves recently, I happened to find three books that I had not read in years. They are: The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. All three novels feature characters younger than the age […]

Totality

Totality is rare these days. A constantly on-the-go society has little time for completion. Even our thoughts and interactions are limited to 140 characters, not quite enough for a thought to fully develop. Hashtags. Text lingo. Sentence fragments. The closest thing approaching totality I’ve done recently is binge-watch an entire season of Silicon Valley in […]