January 29, 2014 by genelup
The search for my “Great American Novel” continues. I marked F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby off. It barely scratched the surface of the American spirit of a people in a certain time in our history. Fitzgerald missed the mark trying to hit the Roaring Twenties. He didn’t focus on enough people to make the era believable.
I found on my bookshelf Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which one source said it was his best work. I don’t know how I ended up with that book. If Fitzgerald missed the mark, Thompson wasn’t in the same ballpark. Thompson is a very good writer, and he is a master describing scenes and keeping conversations moving quickly. Years ago I read Hell’s Angels and thought it was interesting. However, Las Vegas is bloated on the drug culture, an atavistic saga of the acid-dropping 60s. I decided sub-cultured books like Thompson’s Hell’s Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas will never make my cut on my “Great American Novel” search.
So, what am I reading now – John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. I also plan to complete Steinbeck’s trinity and tackle Tortilla Flats and Sweet Thursday. These three books portray a portrait of life in the Monterey, Calif., area circa the 30s and 40s. Perhaps this trinity as a whole will become my “Great American Novel.” However, I doubt it. I still want to re-read The Grapes of Wrath, along with other books such as Mobey-Dick, To Kill a Mockingbird, Peyton’s Place, etc. before I make a decision. Stay tuned.