Wow, this is a good one for the weekly Booking Through Thursday question:
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.
When I read this, my first thought was, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. And as I continued to think about it during the day, I came up with lots of other books that I think are "great," but stuck with my original thought, if I had to choose just one.
I remember that I saw the movie when I was a kid, before I had read the book, and as a result, really wanted to read the book. When I asked my mother if the book was anything like the movie, she said that it was one of the few that were loyal to the original work. (She was quite the critic ... about everything ...)
Then of course I read the book, and it has always stayed with me. I think it is incredibly evocative of time and place. I like the fact that Atticus Finch talks to his children in a straightforward, non-condescending way; he expects them to be thinking, reasoning people. He also doesn't make everything sugar-coated, so that they aren't growing up with an unrealistic idea of the world around them. He is someone who is trying his best to live his beliefs and principles, and wants his children to grow up to do the same thing. And all the time, his children are watching him, listening, and learning. While, of course, trying to figure out what is the truth about Boo Radley - they are kids after all!
I think that To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the first books that really made me want to be like the main character. I am, unfortunately, not even close to Atticus Finch. But he'll always be there to remind me of the importance of my actions and beliefs.
Finally, I also like the idea that Harper Lee wrote this book, and then no others. And why should she? She proved that she was a writer, and from what I can tell, all these years later, no one has to be reminded of who she is.