Brooklyn Magazine came out with a rather audacious list recently called The literary history of the United States: A map of the best book for every state.
Here’s what they came up with for the Great Lakes states:
- Illinois: Native Son, Richard Wright
- Indiana: The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields
- Michigan: Split Images, Elmore Leonard
- Minnesota: Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, Maud Hart Lovelace
- New York State: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, Joyce Carol Oates
- Ohio: The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
- Pennsylvania: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon
- Wisconsin: The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach
The criteria for selection?
“We wanted to come up with a list that was more than just a general reflection of a place, but rather paid attention to the specifics, even at the risk of the exclusion of the whole. No one book, after all, can completely capture the spirit of something so unwieldy as a state. Few—if any—books can even completely capture the spirit of an individual. And yet there are those stories that so beautifully evoke a time and a place and a way of life that it becomes close to impossible to separate the literary perception of a place from its reality—one winds up informing the other.”
Huh? I think that just means it’s arbitrary as the dickens. And while this list may be as good as any, it strikes me as a bit too urban.
So here’s a challenge, Echo readers. Name a book that best captures the feel of a Great Lakes state’s natural environment. You can nominate and justify your decision in the comments section below.
And here’s a start: How about the Nick Adams stories by Ernest Hemingway for capturing the feel of Michigan’s rivers and forests?
Bonus points: Which book best captures the feel of the entire Great Lakes region?
Upending the Basin is an occasional series by Echo Editor David Poulson about reporting on the environment.