EXPLORING LITERARY AMERICA by Marcella Thum

EXPLORING LITERARY AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For those inclined to spend a vacation day (or a class field trip) visiting the graves or childhood homes of the famous, the author of Exploring Black America (1975) has compiled a readable biographical listing of homes, museums, plaques, parks, and other sites (Walden Pond, Muir Woods, Headless Horseman Bridge) connected with 62 American literary figures. As Thum notes, ""not all of the authors in this book have written great literature""--though the others were best sellers in their day--and so Hawthorne, Whitman, Mark Twain, Faulkner, and two presidents (Jefferson and Lincoln) who were also great writers mix with such authors as Zane Grey and Eugene Field, who were always ""more popular with readers than with literary critics,"" and others (Joaquin Miller, Harold Bell Wright) even less well remembered today. Thum's criticism is geared more to the tourist than the student (about Faulkner, one of whose novels is listed as O Absalom: ""Although Faulkner has been criticized for emphasizing violence, degeneration and horror in his books he is a powerful story-teller""), but her two-to-five-page sketches of the writers' lives and careers make comfortable back-seat reading. Illustrated with photos (though they come, inconveniently, in clusters) and equipped with a geographical index for travelers' convenience.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1979
Publisher: Atheneum