Come and Get It

  • Cecilia Konchar Farr
Part of the American Literature Readings in the 21st Century book series (ALTC)


On a family road trip recently, I visited a used bookshop in a tiny, touristy South Dakota town. The sign outside called attention to the first editions and rare books inside. How could a car full of booklovers resist, even with the promise of pie just down the street? So we browsed, showing off our discoveries to one another—old National Geographics, quaint volumes of Shakespeare from the Harvard Classics “Five Foot Shelf” series, obscure collections of nature poetry, and anthologies of Native American tales. I picked up A White Bird Flying, a Beth Streeter Aldrich novel I had loved as a teenager, and knew immediately I wanted to reread it. It was like that scene in Somewhere in Time, where (the oh-so-romantic) Christopher Reeve accidentally pulls out a relic from the 1980s and lurches unexpectedly out of his period costume drama, hurtling away from (the always anachronistic) Jane Seymour. There was something vivid and time lurching about this book. I had to have it.


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  1. 17.
    Lawrence Buell’s absorbing study The Dream of the Great American Novel (Harvard 2014) traces the nationalist roots of the “GAN,” as he calls it. Using Ralph Ellison’s statement “The novel has always been bound up with the idea of nationhood” as an epigraph for the introduction, Buell asserts, “the rise of the novel in the early modern West was roughly concurrent and often interlocked with the rise of nationalism” (10). After laying out the GAN’s uniquely American characteristics, Buell finally sidesteps the question of whether “there’s enough cultural glue conjoining the disparate parts of the US nation-state to make for nationally coherent fictional traditions” and soldiers on in his study of 16 proof-texts, eleven by white men (Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, quelle surprise!) and two by Americans of color.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Cecilia Konchar Farr 2016

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  • Cecilia Konchar Farr

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