Hemingway said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before.”
Melville was before that, but you could arguing although Melville was American what he was doing wasn’t really American writing. It was more English than American, right? American writing is the terse, hard sentences. The absence of adjectives. Melville used too many words.
But let’s include Melville in this list anyway, regardless of what Papa says. So we’ve got Melville, Twain, Faulkner and Hemingway. I’m sure everyone agrees at this point.
And now we have Cormac McCarthy. He’s the living, current champ of American lit. You can try to argue that he isn’t, but you would be wrong. He is.
McCarthy should have a new book coming out any year now. Maybe two books. We know it’s in the works and the release date keeps getting pushed back. He is under some pressure. He’s getting old and how do you follow up The Road. This could be his last one and you’ve got end it strong. Stronger than The Road? Not even sure that’s possible. But who is next? Who is writing the next great American novel? Who is going to carry on the tradition of the masters? DFW was supposed to be one, but he ended his life much too early. No telling what he could’ve produced. Unfortunately, for me, Infinite Jest is unreadable. There were other greats beside the ones I mentioned, but I’m not sure anyone else was in the same weight class as the big 5. But where does American lit go from here?
I hope you weren’t expecting an answer from me. I just have questions and hope people smarter than me chime in and can let us know.