1. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    Best/Favorite American writer?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Afterburner, Mar 2, 2010.

    So the title of the thread says it all. Tell us who your favorite and/or who the best (in your opinion) American writer is.

    Personally, I don't have an opinion on who the best is. I don't feel like I've read enough American literature to make a good choice.

    My favorite? I don't know that either. I'm more interested in hearing the responses of all you fine people.

    Let the discussion begin!
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I felt the need to distinguish between poetry and prose since they are such different beasts. Anyways, here are my lists.

    My vote for best would go either to Faulkner or Twain. Right after that come Hemingway and Steinbeck. In the horror genre, Poe is probably the best.

    As for poetry, Walt Whitman immediately comes to mind, as do Wallace Stevens, W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and ee cummings.
     
  3. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    Ohhhh yeahhhh. That might have been a good distinction to make haha.
     
  4. writersblockgirl
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    writersblockgirl Member

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    Currently I've been enjoying Steinbeck and Twain, but most of my favorite authors (Tolkien, Lewis, Golding, Richard Adams, Rowling...) are British authors...so I can't really say which American I think is best.

    I really like Salinger, but I'd have to say Steinbeck...he really captures the American feel, I suppose.
     
  5. Delphinus
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    Delphinus Senior Member

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    I abhor Steinbeck. Something about the way he writes just makes me nauseous. I'm sure that he works well for others, but oh GOD.

    Salinger, Poe, and uh Hunter S. Thompson are my favorite American writers, and obviously Poe is the king of gothic horror.
     
  6. MCWhite
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    MCWhite Contributing Member

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    Cormac McCarthy - Even usurped Faulkner as my favorite author and that says a lot.
     
  7. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    Ernest Hemingway.
     
  8. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    Eh. The only thing I've ever read of his was The Pearl. I liked it well enough.

    One American writer that I can't stand is Hemingway. Admittedly, I've only read The Old Man And The Sea and The Big Two-Hearted River, but both works made me cringe. I hate his writing style, and in my opinion he is incredibly boring.

    EDIT:

    Agree to disagree? lol
     
  9. Sabreur
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    Sabreur Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    As good as McCarthy is, I feel that he's just a copycat of Faulkner. Sure, some of McCarthy's later works have a distinct voice, but I still see a bit of Faulkner in them. That's why I'd place Faulkner over McCarthy any day. Besides, no American writer can even come close to beating The Sound and the Fury.
     
  11. MCWhite
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    MCWhite Contributing Member

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    I don't feel the same way at all, thirdwind. I love Faulkner and used to read The Sound and the Fury religiously every year. Used to be my bible. Put it up on a pedestal no other book could reach. Then I found McCarthy. He blew me out of the water with Suttree, Blood Meridian, and All the Pretty Horses (which I just finished reading). I don't consider him to be Faulkner's shadow - that's an insult to the extraordinary talent present in his novels. He's even better, the best author I've ever read.
     
  12. benny
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    benny New Member

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    My favorite writer is Hemingway. This is a recent decision. Some of his books bored the hell out of me, and some others I consider the best I've ever read. His writing is so basic but loaded with character and just so full of life. He had a crazy journey and really lived it, and I think it comes across in his work. The kind of guy that lived a life that clint eastwood usually portrays in movies, for lack of a better description. Hard as nails but with so much emotional intelligence. I read "A Farewell To Arms" for the first time last year and was incredibly moved by it.

    Just because it's being discussed:
    I'm really on the fence with Cormac McCarthy... I "liked" The Road and Blood Meridian, but also found them a little dull and not nearly as deep as people make them out to be. I think I like his writing because of its minimalism, lack of quotation marks, and all those things that give it a perfect flow, but I find his stories leaving much to be desired. I thought it would be a rare case where The Road (film) could only improve on the novel, but when I watched it I felt it was exactly the same... Just ok. I guess he's a guy I really want to like, but am never wowed by.
     
  13. MCWhite
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    MCWhite Contributing Member

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    If you have the time, try reading All the Pretty Horses. It's markedly different from any of his other novels. I'd say it and Suttree are his best works. Suttree is just an emotional rollercoaster.

    EDIT: I too loved Farewell to Arms. Hemingway is another exceptional author in his own unique way.
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    McCarthy's first novel, The Orchard Keeper, copies Faulkner's style heavily, and that was one thing critics called him out on. Don't get me wrong, I think McCarthy is a great writer, but I would have had a greater respect for him had he found his own unique style. I got about 50 or so pages into The Orchard Keeper but was turned off by how much he copied Faulkner (and even Hemingway to some extent). Sometimes he sacrifices clarity for lyricism, which is not the best thing to do IMO.

    Anyways, it doesn't really matter since it's just our opinions. We'll have to agree to disagree.
     
  15. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    I definitely agree with all those who said McCarthy, but Lovecraft is one of my favorite American authors as well.
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Same, on both accounts, also Poe is great. But I find Thomas Pynchon to be the best.

    Side note: thank god no one has said Stephen King.
     
  17. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Oh, yes, I forgot about Pynchon. After reading The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity's Rainbow, I was highly impressed. He's possibly the greatest living writer IMO.
     
  18. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Vonnegut was somewhat awesome with Slaughterhouse 5 and Breakfast of Champions.
     
  19. ManhattanMss
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    I'm not sure I have a favorite American author, because there are so many I've loved and still have yet to read enough of (including virtually all the greats others have already mentioned). If I had to pick one favorite American author, in particular, though, I imagine it would be Toni Morrison. I think her work is bold and daring, as well as remarkably artful and insightful. Jonathan Safron Foer and Don Delillo are two I'd probably add to a list of favorite American writers based upon just one or two examples of their work. I guess if I had to vote for a "best" American author (rather than a "favorite"), I'd have to consider, too, the overall influence of a body of work coming from prolific writers like Joyce Carol Oates whose short stories I love (though less so, her novels), and perhaps John Updike who's surely left his mark.

    My two current favorite authors, though, with more work I aim to read but haven't yet, don't happen to be American (Murakami & Calvino). I never think of author choices I make as either American or otherwise, and I don't feel any particular preference related to that distinction. I guess what I love best is the variety!
     
  20. Sabreur
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    Sabreur Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll probably shame myself by saying this, but I haven't read much Faulkner besides a short story or two. If he is much like McCarthy though (or vice-versa) then perhaps I should give him a read.
     
  21. BBWalter
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    Pearl S.Buck, certainly. She has a descriptive ability that is fluid, minimalistic, and indulgent. I love several writers, but Buck is at the top of my list.

    In reality, I had to go and look up several of my favorite authors to see where they were from. I rarely pay attention to the author's country of origin when I select a book or after I read it. The only time I notice is when I'm reading and there are distinct grammatical/linguistic differences. :)

    BB Walter
     
  22. Mouser
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    Just looking on my shelf. Gonna have to say George RR Martin. Brilliant writer. Although I think he's the only American author on my shelf...

    Edit: Actually, where's Robin Hobb from? I like her too.
     
  23. Tigress
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    Robert Heinlein. If you haven't read his work, pick up a copy of Future History. It's a collection of short stories that, even if you're not fond of shorties, you will like because he reuses the same characters in many of them. :)
     
  24. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Poe, Salinger, Twain..... many more, but I can't think of them right now.

    A lot of my fave authors (Rowling, Dickens, etc.) come from England, though. American and English writers are the best IMO. They dominate their genres.

    (My fave musicians are all English and American, too. I guess you could call them authors or poets, because music is stories and poetry too. :D)
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't have a favorite. In fact, even the notion of a favorite writer makes me laugh and shake my head.

    But Isaac Asimov is certainly noteworthy. Best known for his Three Laws of Robotics (and the novels, such as I, Robot, they were presented in) and the Foundation series, he also write some fascinating nonfiction.

    Check out some of his short stories, too. He went against the common wisdom of the day, that science fiction was incompatible with the mystery genre, and created a series of science fiction mystery short stories.

    A few minutes ago, one of his other short stories popped into my head, If you can, get hold of his short story, Pâté de Foie Gras. It's an intellectual puzzle, and is also funny as hell.

    He also considered the pun to be the highest form of humor. One of his best completes his short story, A Loint of Paw. The title is a Spoonerism,and the story itself is a Feghoot, a complete short story that is ultimately the setup for a pun.

    In a sense, the novel The Flying Sorcerors, by David Gerrold and Larry Niven, is a novel-length Feghoot that itself pays a deep homage to Dr. Asimov.
     

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