Best American novels
First it was The Guardian, choosing the 100 greatest novels of all time and getting around to the first American, Nathaniel Hawthorne, at No. 20, behind Cervantes and Bunyan and Swift and Dafoe and Fielding and Sterne and Austen and both Brontes and on and on.Now it's the Telegraph, noticing that novels are written on this side of the Atlantic and offering up a list that also has "The Scarlet Letter" and "Moby-Dick" first and second, before getting weird (is "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" a novel?) and weirder ("We Need to Talk About Kevin" is one of the 15 best North American novels of all time?).A website called 10-most.com has a list that reads like it's translated from another language: "A Russian physician, Anton Chekhov is regarded as one of the greatest author of short stories in the history. Trick ending and swags of atmosphere are the characteristics of his stories."
Swags of atmosphere … it's my new catchphrase. Here's how to use it in a sentence: "The food at that new restaurant in the Pearl was uninspired, but the place did have swags of atmosphere."George Saunders, as always, restores an uneasy sense of calm with a list of his six favorite books. We have one in common ("In Our Time, " the book to give people who think Hemingway is overrated) and I'm going to have to take another look at "Visions of Gerard" based on Saunders' recommendation.