TODAY’S NATIONAL DAY, 1/21/24 – THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL DAY!

AmericanLiteratureIt wasn’t the Great American Novel, or even a very popular American novel, but “The Power of Sympathy” by William Hill Brown was the first American novel, published by Isaiah Thomas in Boston on January 21, 1789, making today

NATIONAL GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL DAY!

With a subtitle like “A Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth, In Two Volumes,” The Power of Sympathy didn’t capture many hearts and minds, but it did open the floodgates for thousands of homegrown authors to try their best to write the Great American Novel.

We were the ones to reap the rewards when William Hill Brown’s spiritual descendants got busy: Mark Twain, Herman Melville, John Updike, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, John Irving, Truman Capote, James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Eugene O’Neill, Joseph Heller, Edith Wharton, James Fenimore Cooper, Jack London, Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou, Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler, Robert Heinlein, Larry McMurtry and hundreds of others who deserve inclusion here.

The best novels transport us into their stories and interweave their characters’ lives with our own, sublime exercises of wordcraft and human insight. Finishing such a book is elevating, but sad. We miss the fictional people who made something real for us, explained some elusive truth, or were just a blast to have around.

Read ’em if you got ’em!

•Suggested Activities: Prowling your local Used Books Emporium

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