The great era for American literature was in the 1920’s when the then rat pack for American Literature were living in Paris, France. Russian literature was in its heyday in the nineteenth century with Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and others. The British ruled the literary world in the nineteenth century with Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and in the past William Shakespeare. Canada has the occasional Life of Pi, Margaret Atwood, and Mordecai Richler. My recent favorites of Canadian literature are Rawi Hage’s Cockroach (2008) and De Niro’s Game (2006), including Brian Vallee’s book on Edwin Olonzo Boyd’s Gang, The Story of the Notorious Boyd Gang (1998).
If one is an author, even an online author, or an aspiring writer, and approaches any mainstream publication house, a literary agent is needed, or legal representation. If one does get that close, they’ll tell the scribe that non-fiction sells, not fiction, nor science fiction, all in a robotic type way too. Yes, by having a literary agent, bitching about the agent is the next level of being an author too.
I remember seeing a CBC TV host interview an American author, who had wrote about her experiences on dating the opposite sex through Craigslist Personals. That interview left the TV personality to look at the author with disbelief, ruffling the other’s feathers in the process. Yes, the plot of that book was questionable and the reaction of the scribbler made it come across as such. In any library, or bookstore, there is a whole section reserved to Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins, or even romance novels. Next is the how to section, or the autobiography section where books can be found about Hollywood celebrities, or the captains of industry. By the way, business people are not creative types. Business people create money, but they don’t write. When you create money, it does not mean you are not a creative type either. In debt university graduates are paid by such successful business people to write their memoires. It is an ugly reality but true too. Did the original Rockefeller have an MBA? No. Legend has it, he couldn’t even spell his own name, yet he hired all the graduates from the finest schools to manage the empire he had founded through his own diligence, or cut throat approach.
Several years ago, I discovered a little known American author Sinclair Lewis. Who is he? In 1930, Sinclair Lewis was the first American author to win the Nobel Prize for literature. He actually turned down the Pulitzer Prize for Arrowsmith in 1926.
Sinclair Lewis wrote Main Street (1920), Babbit (1922), Arrowsmith (1925), Elmer Gantry (1927), Dodsworth (1929), and It can’t Happen Here (1935). Instead of idealizing the Midwest, where he was from, he made them look backward, red neckish, and uncultivated. To add to their outrage, he portrayed his characters as leading empty, meaningless lives in a materialistic type world. It is safe to say that Sinclair Lewis was not liked in his time. The only time they actually accepted him was when he died, leading those from his birthplace to make his childhood home into a museum. In his time, Sinclair Lewis, however, was eclipsed by Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and others. But word in Hollywood is George Clooney is remaking the 1937 film version of 1937 Dodsworth, or maybe I am making up a rumor once again. See the clips at http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/186228/Dodsworth-Movie-Clip-Smartest-Crowd.html , or http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/186217/Dodsworth-Movie-Clip-Dodsworth-Motors.html .
Paul Collins, author of Mack Dunstan’s Inferno / Mystery of Everyman’s Way
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