Novem­ber 1st is Nation­al Authors’ Day!  An author is to book lovers what a great chef is to gour­mands, what an oasis is to dehy­drat­ed desert trav­el­ers, and what a favorite ted­dy bear is to chil­dren.  Amer­i­can writ­ers, from Hawthorne to McCarthy, from Poe to Hem­ing­way, have iso­lat­ed, dis­tilled, described, and defined Amer­i­ca, what it is to live here, and what it is that makes Amer­i­cans who we are.

It’s pret­ty much impos­si­ble for me to pick a favorite Amer­i­can writer, so I’m going to give you my top 5!

grrm

5.  George R. R. Mar­t­in! — Not nec­es­sar­i­ly part of what you’d call clas­sic Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture, but my fan­ta­sy obses­sion runs too deep for me to men­tion favorite Amer­i­can writ­ers and not include him.  If you love the TV series (i.e., if you have a pulse), give the series that the show is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, a try!  They’re pret­ty great!

edna

4.  Edna St. Vin­cent Mil­lay! — Since she’s not a nov­el­ist, she’s again some­one you might not think of as a clas­sic Amer­i­can author, but Mil­lay is my mother’s favorite poet and she is there­fore a big part of my lit­er­ary his­to­ry.  Her work is deeply affect­ing; a true emo­tion­al roller coast­er.  If you’re not famil­iar with Millay’s poet­ry, read The Bal­lad of the Harp-Weaver.  It will make you cry, though, so just be advised.

mary

3.  Mary Robison! — Her post­mod­ern nov­el Why Did I Ever is prob­a­bly my favorite book that I ever read for a class.  Report­ed­ly writ­ten over the course of sev­er­al years with each sep­a­rate snippet/section/vignette on a sep­a­rate index card, the book is hilar­i­ous and touch­ing and the eas­i­est read of any great book ever.  Get on it.

kurt

2.  Kurt Von­negut, Jr! — To any per­son who reads Eng­lish, this man needs no intro­duc­tion.  Cat’s Cradle is one of the best books ever.  That is all.

donna

1.  Don­na Tartt! — Full dis­clo­sure, I have not found time to read The Goldfinch yet.  I am, how­ev­er, com­plete­ly in love with The Secret His­to­ry.  For a per­son whose oth­er favorite books are LotR and Pride and Prej­u­dice and The Count of Mon­te Cristo, I nev­er real­ly knew that I could find a (rel­a­tive­ly) con­tem­po­rary, non-his­tor­i­cal, non-fan­tas­tic piece of lit­er­a­ture that I would love as much as I love those oth­er books.  But I found it in The Secret His­to­ry.  That book rules.

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So, what do you think?