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The Best American Novel

The men at Power Line are conducting a poll to find out what their readers consider to be the best American novel. 

I chose Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  You can vote here.

Comments (15)

This list looks more like w... (Below threshold)

This list looks more like what a graduate lecturer for the freshman course on the great American novel would think people 'should like'. There are a lot better novels (e.g. Turtledove's Guns of the south).

Hmmmm.IMHO I still... (Below threshold)


IMHO I still cannot understand what people see in Moby Dick. The prose style is so impenetrable it's like bathing in setting concrete.

And the Great Gatsby is almost as bad.

Frankly my pick is Catch-22. Anyone who has either worked in a bureaucracy or enlisted in the military should see truth in that book.

Johnny got his gunCa... (Below threshold)
Drew E.:

Johnny got his gun
Slaughterhouse 5
But then again i'm a sucker for war heros.G

Where the Red Fern Grows... (Below threshold)

Where the Red Fern Grows should most definitely be on that list.

Another vote here for Josep... (Below threshold)

Another vote here for Joseph Heller and Catch-22. Practically every gag you see on any office or military comedy show can be found somewhere inside that book.

Plus, with the short segments, it makes for terrific bathroom reading.

Good choice, Kim. I love t... (Below threshold)
Lorie Byrd:

Good choice, Kim. I love the book, but haven't read it in years. The movie was one of my all time favorites, as well.

I am not crazy about the li... (Below threshold)

I am not crazy about the list either but my number one is there so it's OK.

To Kill A Mockingbird, hands down.

Like Harper Lee said, why should I write another book, I did it right the first time.

I know it's preachy ... (Below threshold)

I know it's preachy socialism but I think the Grapes of Wrath deserves to be on the list.

Ugh... The only thing wors... (Below threshold)

Ugh... The only thing worse than Johnny Got His Gun was the movie version of the book. That's a tiresome read, and an incomprehensible movie. Although I enjoyed Metallica's use of it in the video for "One"...

Heck, enjoyed "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" more than Johnny Got His Gun... Good call on Catch-22 though...

I just finished reading Adv... (Below threshold)

I just finished reading Adverbs, and while it might not belong in the top ten, it has more of America, craft and humor than most of the the stuff on the list other than Heller and Twain. Hemingway of course belongs there.

If I had to choose from the list, Twain would win hands down.

I chose Huckleberry Finn. I... (Below threshold)

I chose Huckleberry Finn. I think that Mark Twain was one of the best American writers that has ever lived. The book shows a broad section of life in the South before the Civil War. Besides, the book is totally politically incorrect and has all of the liberals running scared.

Hmmm.Another reaso... (Below threshold)


Another reason I love Catch-22 is because my USMC career was like something from that book. 450 men stuck on a base together for years with no prospect of escape in sight and a spiraling level of insanity that was epic to behold.

My only questions is how di... (Below threshold)

My only questions is how did Invisible Man wind up on the list? I got about 35 pages into it and gave up. It was brutal.

I voted for To Kill A Mockingbird as well.

As yetanotherjohn po... (Below threshold)

As yetanotherjohn pointed out, the offered list sounds like it came straight from academia.

I don't think Moby Dick is so difficult, but it holds its high rank among academics because it makes teaching archetypes easy.

For the 19th Century, Twain, and for the early 20th, TKAM. Something from Wolfe for the latter 20th - perhaps Bonfire of the Vanities, if it isn't too close to the Unauthorized Biography of Al Sharpton.

Moby Dick. Not only is it a... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Moby Dick. Not only is it a landmark American work, but one of the landmarks of the English language as well. Ed pointed out how the prose is "impenetrable" and, to some extent, I think he has a point; Moby Dick is a difficult read. But therein lies the masterpiece of the novel; it is much like Faith, a seemingly impenetrable concept, yet when one looks deep enough there is gold.

Yeah, we can all bitch and gripe about what should and shouldn't have been on the list and I'm no exception. Here's a couple I think should have been on the list:

Grapes of Wrath (Glad somebody else in this thread thought so, too!)
The Color Purple (No excuse for this being left off the list.)
Of Mice and Men (So what if it's a novella.)
On The Road (If you've ever crossed America...)
The Catcher in the Rye (Shameless ommission! Yes, Holden is a self-involved, spoiled whiny asshole, but so are most teenagers. This book may have more relevance in terms of today's iPod-addicted, give-it-to-me-now and pop-culture-saturated teenagers than it did in the 50s.)
The Bell Jar (Just a personal favorite...)






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