American Historical Fiction discussion

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The Great Depression

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Jenny Q (Jenny_Q) | 557 comments Mod
I've seen a couple of new books coming out set during this time period, but I don't think I've read any fiction about the Depression other than Of Mice and Men. Anyone have any suggestions?


Sally Cabot (sallycabotgunning) Stormy Weather, by Paulette Jiles, is a wonderful book, about Texas in the early 1900's. I think of it as a depression era book. The characters are unique and totally endearing but not cute and the story has a rainbow in it -- not a downer.


Jenny Q (Jenny_Q) | 557 comments Mod
Sally wrote: "Stormy Weather, by Paulette Jiles, is a wonderful book, about Texas in the early 1900's. I think of it as a depression era book. The characters are unique and totally endearing but not cute and th..."

I'll definitely check it out. I loved Enemy Women.


Shomeret | 47 comments I'd like to suggestBread Giversby Anzia Yezierska in this category. It's a Jewish immigrant perspective.


Jenny Q (Jenny_Q) | 557 comments Mod
Maybe I was confusing Of Mice and Men with Grapes of Wrath? I read both in high school.


Cindy (CindyReeceakaLuLuBrown) | 11 comments Jenny wrote: "Maybe I was confusing Of Mice and Men with Grapes of Wrath? I read both in high school."

I haven't read either, but Of Mice and Men was published in 1937 (I had to look it up) so it probably was a contemporary of the Depression.


Mary (MaryBT) | 40 comments Stormy Weather was excellent. But I craved red beans and rice the whole time I was reading it. I also took a lot of showers. Jiles is very good at developing her settings. lol.

The Persian Pickle Club is set in Kansas during the Depression. It's not high brow or anything but it goes fast and it's a sweet story.


Cindy (CindyReeceakaLuLuBrown) | 11 comments The Persian Pickle Club..."

I have that book! Now I have a good reason to read it! I work as a paraeducator and the 4th grade studies the Depression.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 93 comments Neither Of Mice and Men or Grapes of Wrath is historical fiction; they were set in the current-day of when they were written.

Not that I'm telling anyone not to read Steinbeck!


message 12: by Jenny (last edited Oct 03, 2011 11:16AM) (new)

Jenny Q (Jenny_Q) | 557 comments Mod
I guess I consider them historical fiction simply because by the time I came along and read them, they were historical. 75 years ago they may have been contemporary fiction, but you certainly couldn't call them that now. How would you categorize them? It would be easy to call those two classics, but you can't say that of every novel written just because they've aged.


Mary (MaryBT) | 40 comments Susanna said that and a lightbulb just went off in my head. For YEARS I have wondered what Barnes and Noble (among others) meant by "contemporary classics."

I can't believe I just now got that! lol.

At any rate, I loved both Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath. Also Cannery Row and pretty much anything else by John Steinbeck.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 93 comments I suspect that's why there's the term "modern classics."


Jenny Q (Jenny_Q) | 557 comments Mod
Interesting discussion. I guess I thought modern classics meant newer books that everyone loves and thinks will be classics. So what about all those novels still floating around out there that never earned a "classic" designation? Or does the fact that they're old make them classics regardless of literary merit?


Mary (MaryBT) | 40 comments I always wondered how/who determined what was classic. Actually, I only started wondering that after I read "Confederacy of Dunces" and I was appalled that anyone would consider that worthwhile literature. lol.

Maybe it's kind of like "literary fiction," you can't explain it but you know it when you see it?


Jenny Q (Jenny_Q) | 557 comments Mod
Well, regardless of what you want to call it, if a book took place in America's past, it's welcome in this group!


Shay | 24 comments Haven't read it but The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen is set during the Depression.

Susan Wittig Albert wrote a mystery series set during this time: http://www.goodreads.com/series/63971...


Ken Consaul | 114 comments Lulu wrote: "Jenny wrote: "Maybe I was confusing Of Mice and Men with Grapes of Wrath? I read both in high school."

I haven't read either, but Of Mice and Men was published in 1937 (I had to look it up) so i..."


I'm thinking John Steinbeck was probably the only person in the country upset when the Great Depression ended. Grapes, Mice, Cannery Row, were his bread and butter.

Most of my other reading in the Great Depression era are Prohibition crime syndicate books. Billy Bathgate comes to mind as well as a lot of Doctorow's books are set in this period.

I realize Prohibition and the GD are separated by a decade but they are inextricably linked in history. As an aside my Gramps owned a couple of restaurants along the St. Lawrence River during prohibition and kept the clubs going by running hootch over from Canada. I doubt it was more than a half hour each way and customs inspection was pretty much a voluntary thing coming back to NY. The 'swells' used to vacation in the 1000 Islands and he ran a limo service shuffling them around. My dad drove.


message 20: by M. (new)

M. Myers (MRuth) | 11 comments It's neat to see others interested in the Great Depression. My latest novel, just out as an ebook, starts a mystery series set in a small city (Dayton, OH) during the era. Early reviews are giving it good marks for the historical feel. No Game for a Dame (Maggie Sullivan mysteries) by M. Ruth Myers My website mruthmyers.com has some photos from the era.


Shelley | 43 comments Jenny, I can't believe I missed your thread before. I was excited to see it, since I think in our current hard economic times, the Great Depression speaks directly to what we're all going through.

My work is the story of a young farm wife, her son, and her best friend, the town outcast, as they all try to make it through the Depression and the black storms of the Dust Bowl:

Shelley
Rain: A Dust Bowl Story
http://dustbowlpoetry.wordpress.com


Ken Consaul | 114 comments Well, who can mention The Great Depression without a few words on Steinbeck? Everyone thinks of the Joads and The Grapes of Wrath when you think of books about the era. For me, I kind of liked Cannery Rowand Tortilla Flat just for the combination of characters, setting, and period. They seemed more natural stories in they weren't as 'preachy' as Grapes.


Mary (MaryBT) | 40 comments Of the 3 you mentioned, Ken, I think Tortilla Flat was my favorite. But I pretty much eat up anything Steinbeck wrote.


Moon | 5 comments There was one book for adolescents that I remember reading that took place during the Depression. *does a quick search* Out of the Dust, that's it!

I've never read Of Mice and Men, but since seeing a university campus's drama department put on a production of it, I have been interested in reading the book.


Liz V. | 33 comments Moony's response had me curious, so I did a quick search too:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...


message 26: by M. (new)

M. Myers (MRuth) | 11 comments BUTTERFIELD 8 by John O'Hara was published in the 1930's. Set in California, as I recall, possibly Hollywood. It's been eons since I read it, but I enjoyed it. BUtterfield 8 by John O'Hara


Edward Erdelac (EMErdelac) | 14 comments I love Tortilla Flat...and The Pearl.


Tracy Smith | 39 comments Another classic depression novel is Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell. It's kind of like The Simpsons meet the 1930s.


message 29: by M. (new)

M. Myers (MRuth) | 11 comments Wow, is that a provocative description of Tobacco Road, Tracy. It's great.


Ken Consaul | 114 comments M. wrote: "Wow, is that a provocative description of Tobacco Road, Tracy. It's great."

I haven't read Tobacco Road but probably will. Copied this from one of the reviews:

"it seems like we were meant to laugh at the horrible people doing stupid things and making disastrous decisions, but what's the fun in that?"

Sounds like The Simpsons to me.


Ken Consaul | 114 comments Edward wrote: "I love Tortilla Flat...and The Pearl."

When I first read Tortilla Flat, I wanted to try some 'grappa'. I think I'm lucky I could never find any.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Of Mice and Men (other topics)
Bread Givers (other topics)
The Grapes of Wrath (other topics)
The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers (other topics)
No Game For a Dame (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

John Steinbeck (other topics)
Susan Wittig Albert (other topics)
Thomas Mullen (other topics)