So I thought that after 1930s nothing happened in American literature. Dreiser, Steinbeck, Faulkner*, and that’s it, lights out.
But it’s not true. Turns out there was a whole current of what I call “the quiet American literature.” Wallace Stegner and John Edward Williams belong to it. Beautiful writing. Very simple, not at all fussy. Zero pretentiousness. And so, so very American in the best possible sense.
I’m very happy I discovered these two great authors. I’m hoping there were other people writing in this vein. I blame my professors of American literature for making me think that Pynchon and DeLillo were the pinnacle of achievement in post-war US literature. They are both horrid, by the way. Utterly unreadable.
I had to spend 10 years in college getting 5 literature degrees only to discover much later that the best Latin American, US and Indian literature was concealed from me.
* Faulkner, by the way, was taught to me in my Spanish program because he’s considered (unfairly) to be the founder of the modern Latin American literature. In my American literature program I don’t remember him being mentioned much.