What with yesterday being the Fourth of July and all, I’m feeling a little patriotic, and so have a simple question:What, in your opinion, is the (mythical) Great American Novel? At least to date. A “classic,” or a current one–either would be fine. Mark Twain? J.D. Salinger? F. Scott Fitzgerald? Stephen King? Laura Ingalls Wilder?It doesn’t have to be your favorite book, mind you. “Citizen Kane” may be the “best” film, and I concede its merits, but it’s not my favorite. You don’t have to love something to know that it’s good.Now, I know that not all of you are American–but you can play, too! What I want from you is to know what you consider to the best novel of YOUR country. It might be someone the rest of us haven’t heard of and, frankly, I think we’d all like to get some new authors to read.In fact, while we’re at it–I’m curious about the geographical make-up of this meme. So, while you’re leaving your link to your post, tell us where in the world you are! (For the record, I’m in New Jersey, USA.)
My choice for the Great American Novel may not even be a novel ( it might be a novella): Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. On one level, it's a light story about a golddigger who befriends a writer, moves into his apartment, and shows him the decidedly atypical slice of American life she has tried to enter.
Glam, bohemian parties present a background for a lonely, lovely woman who loves the glitter and freedom she found when she left her home, but fears attachments. She calls the men who give her the "tips" she lives on "rats," and she calls her cat "Cat" because a real name for the animal would represent too much of an attachment. Despite the patina of sophistication, she remains a naive, small-town girl who misses her brother and who allows herself to become an unwitting carrier of information for a jailed mobster.
I've always thought of Breakfast at Tiffany's as another iteration of the themes that F. Scott Fitzgerald iterated in The Great Gatsby. Like Jay Gatsby, Holly Golightly has come east to establish a glittering life for herself. Where Gatsby stared at the green light at the end of the pier where his unattainable Daisy lived and flung jewel-toned shirts to impress her, Holly stares at the unattainable jewels behind the windows of Tiffany's and tries to impress with witticisms. Both Holly and Gatsby are victims of the criminals and wastelands that underlie the glamour of New York.
(Incidentally, I love the film except for the gruesome, goggle-eyed, bucktoothed-gargoyle depiction of the Chinese landlord. Was such a depiction ever acceptable, or funny?)
I'm from Long Island, New York, which explains my affinity for both of Gatsby's Eggs and Holly's Manhattan.
posted by melanie