Sunday, 26 May 2013

American Classics

So much contemporary fiction from American women writers to look forward to this year. Claire Messud's new novel The Woman Upstairs will be published next week in the UK.  I spotted the new Elizabeth Strout The Burgess Boys in Waterstones last week and there will be novels from Curtis Sittenfeld (loved Prep) and Amy Tan.  Best of all, Louise Erdrich's prize-winning novel The Round House has finally been published here.  I'm reading it now and I'm woefully behind with ironing,  gardening and general communication with my family because I just can't put it down!

Talking of fine American writers I've just re-read The Great Gatsby.  My daughter, Kate, was going a little stir-crazy on study leave last week so we thought we'd go and see the new film.  Some critics have thought it over the top but as Rachel of Book Snob points out the novel is not exactly subtle!  Of course, seeing the film made me want to re-visit the novel with its fine opening sentence:
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. 'Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,' he told me, 'just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages you've had.'
Nick Carraway has always been my favourite character in The Great Gatsby and I thought Tobey Maguire played him very well and looked remarkably like a young F Scott Fitzgerald.  I'm also rather fond of Jordan Baker with her 'grey sun-strained eyes.'

What are your favourite American classics?


Anbolyn said...

I saw The Great Gatsby last night, came home and started reading the book right away. I thought the film was magnificent and I wanted to read the source. I like Fitzgerald's writing and will probably read Tender is the Night next.
My favorite American writers, though, are Willa Cather and Edith Wharton.

Ellen said...

I recently read The Great Gatsby and to be honest, I thought I would have liked it more. I must read Tender Is The Night. I intend to go and see the film soon, my daughter is also mired in exams, it's a good way to give them a break, isn't it? I also love contemporary American women writers, Marilynn Robinson, Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Tyler etc and am also a fan of Amy Tan and Louise Erdrich, looking forward to their new books. And my favourite American classic? The Grapes of Wrath.

Sunday Taylor said...

I love Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Wharton, and Henry James. I re-read Tender is the Night recently and the writing is beautiful. Fitzgerald was an amazing writer! I saw The Great Gatsby film and enjoyed it very much. Not sure why there is so much negative buzz about this film; I thought is was very good and true to the book.

Alex said...

I've seen such conflicting reviews of the Messud and the Burgess that I'm not sure whether or not to lay out the expenditure for them. My library hasn't ordered either and isn't looking favourably on authors that aren't likely to push up their borrowing figures. I shall be really interested to see what you think of them before I make a decision.

stujallen said...

I liked the sound of the strout book when heard about it on npr podcast ,she seems to writer quite unique books ,all the best stu

Cathy at Potterjotter said...

Haven't seen the film yet but saw the Northern Ballet's version a few weeks ago which was stunning. Favourite American novels - House of Mirth or any other Wharton and any Henry James. xCathy

Cosy Books said...

My husband and I saw The Great Gatsby yesterday - it was definitely packed with a lot of eye candy! As you know, Nicola, my heart lies with the British novel but I am so tempted to borrow my daughter's copy of this book.

Penny O'Neill said...

I must see this, Nicola.
My favorite American classics? Always, always Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder for children's literature. Willa Cather and Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath).

Vintage Reading said...

Love Willa Cather, I'm fond of Tender is the Night. It's not as perfect as Gatsby but achingly sad and beautiful.

Ellen, your reading tastes are remarkably similar to my own. Never read Grapes of Wrath although I do like Steinbeck.

Sunday, yes Tender is the Night is a favourite of mine, too. The mental illness of Nicole must surely be based on Zelda.

Alex, I've just read the Messud it is certainly a page-turner but was not what I expected to say the least!

Stu, yes the Strout is on my wishlist but I think I'll wait for the paperback -can't justify expenditure for too many hardbacks in one summer!

Cathy, I used to go and see the Northern Ballet Theatre a lot, didn't know they had a Gatsby, I should imagine it would be an excellent ballet.

Cosy Books, yes I know you love the English novel and write very well on them. I'm kind of torn between English and American fiction!

Penny, oh yes I love Louisa May Alcott. I really must revisit Little Women - although I love Good Wives even more! Thanks for reminding me!

Meredith said...

I've wanted to reread Gatsby as well after seeing the film. Of course it's over the top; how else could the film portray the decadence and lack of moral fibre which existed then as it does in so many places today? I ended up loving Gatsby's love for Daisy which seemed very powerful to me for the first time.

Meredith said...

I'm thinking my comment sounded sharp which I never intended. You understand that, right? xo

Tonja said...

This is cool!