You know, rereading my blog from yesterday, I realize I should not be so dismissive of Ernest Hemingway. Some of his short stories are absolutely elegant (read "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," "Cat in the Rain"). His writing style in longer works just rubs me the wrong way--too much unattributed dialogue. Employing the "books are people" metaphor, I simply force a smile and return them to the library unread.
Speaking of American masters...I can't leave out Stephen King. In two hundred years, academe will not begrudge him this title, I just know it. Now, I don't like all of his books--in fact, I either love them or hate them--there's no in between for Stephen King and me. Most people seem to agree, however, that The Green Mile is one of his best. Published in 1996 as a serial novel, it's about a prison guard, Paul Edgecomb, reflecting on the miraculous events which occurred on his death row unit during 1932. The hall to the electric chair is labeled the Green Mile because of its length (long) and its color (green). The movie starring Tom Hanks is very good also. The Green Mile is hopeful and uplifting with little of the Kingesque gross stuff (think the foot chopping scene in Misery). I seem to remember I cried at the end of the book (and the movie too). Looking for catharsis? Try this one.