The Great American Novel Project

The goal: to read all the novels on Wikipedia’s Great American Novel list. For the sake of simplicity, because the list is constantly changing–apparently the criteria for what makes a Great American Novel is an issue at least as contentious as Roe v. Wade or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict–I’m working from the version that was up when I started the project:

  • John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath
  • J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
  • Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March
  • Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow
  • Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections

Since I’ve already read them, I’m crossing Huck Finn, Gatsby, Catcher, and To Kill a Mockingbird off the list immediately. That left me with nine books to get through before I lose interest in this project (well, technically 11 since the U.S.A. trilogy is three books). At this point, I’ve finished The Scarlet Letter and Moby-Dick, and I’ll be moving on to Absalom! Absalom! as soon as I finish The Master and Margarita.

Yes, I am ashamed of the fact that I was an English major and a lifelong book nerd who’s closing in on 30 and still hasn’t made it to Steinbeck and Nabokov. And yes, I am updating my blog about books on a Saturday night.

— from February 5, 2011

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§ 6 Responses to The Great American Novel Project

  • Amazing project and I wish you the best of luck. A couple of books made my to-read list as well.

  • An Elvis movie followed by a great American novel. This is how I spent a life. Absalom Absalom is a great book but Light In August is Faulkner’s masterpiece.

  • […] AboutThe Great American Novel ProjectThe Elvis Project […]

  • Hey fella. I just started a blog myself entitled ‘In Search of a Great American Novel’. My hope is to read those novels already established as GANs, and look out for those that may be the next. In my ‘research’ I stumbled upon your blog. Thought I would stop by to wish luck to a fellow GANner (GANner…I like it).

    I’ve read one section of The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner and I loved it. It was the section focused on Quentin. While at times it was difficult I reveled in the intense cerebral nature.

    An anecdote a teacher told me that you might appreciate: When Faulkner was young he was the postmaster at a university. He had a bedroom behind his workplace, and late at night he would send the janitor off to get him a stack of books from the library and a big ol’ bottle of whiskey. Faulkner would proceed to read the books until either he had finished the stack or finished the whiskey.

    Enjoy your reading!

    • h. says:

      I do love that anecdote! Thanks for sharing. And good luck with your quest (I hope you get to your books a little faster than I’m getting to mine, haha).

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