Zerve Book Club: A Great American Road Trip With The Great American Novels
by Laura Hartle on October 25, 2013
We’ve shown you how you can visit the Wizard of Oz, explore Manhattan like Percy Jackson and how to eat, pray and love without a passport. For our final installment of the 2013 Zerve Book Club, we’d like to take you on a great American cross-country road trip with the Great American Novel (or several of them, in this case). Inspired by Business Insider’s profile of The Most Famous Book Set In Every State, we drew up a literary road map.
1. Massachusetts: Walden by Henry David Thoreau
via Yale University Press
Walden follows Thoreau’s two-year exercise in isolation, living simply and self-reliance as means to gaining a more objective understanding of society. We’re not suggesting you trade in your iPhone for a Spartan lifestyle in the woods, but taking a little time to unplug and immerse yourself in nature might not be a bad idea in our screen-obsessed culture.
2. New York: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The decadence and idealism of the 1920s are encapsulated in Fitzgerald’s tale of an enigmatic young millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and his unrelenting quest to rekindle his lost love with Daisy Buchanan. Narrator and friend Nick Carraway is simultaneously captivated and repulsed by Gatsby’s extravagant and underhanded world in this scathing portrait of the Jazz Age. Follow in Gatsby’s gilded footsteps and see how the other half lives, if only for a day.
Susie Salmon leads the life of a typical suburban teenager until she becomes the victim of a terrible crime. Part drama, part murder-mystery, The Lovely Bones is narrated from Susie’s point of view after her death as she watches her family’s struggle to come to terms with the tragedy and solve the case. Those interested in a good “whodunit” or the connection between our world and the afterlife might enjoy exploring those elements of the book through an intriguing ghost tour or solving a mystery of their own!
4. Georgia: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Gone With the Wind gave the country one of its most epic love stories in the star-crossed romance of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. The story follows Scarlett’s journey from spoiled plantation owner’s daughter to a cunning survivor of the Civil War and its aftermath. Maybe you can’t visit Tara, but you can certainly get swept up in the grandeur of her world while exploring antebellum homes.
5. Florida: To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
Make like Captain Harry Morgan (minus the whole illegal contraband thing) and test out your sea legs on a fishing charter. The salty sea air and thrill of the catch will have you feeling like you’re right in the middle of Hemingway’s adventurous classic.
6. Louisiana: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Louis, an embittered and suicidal young plantation owner, meets the mysterious and deadly vampire, Lestat, who bestows the same immortal gifts on him. The two men become companions and form a vampiric family with a young, orphaned girl in this gothic tale of death, deception and revenge. New Orleans is no stranger to a connection with the macabre; discover the chilling underbelly of the Big Easy.
7. Texas: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
A new take on the classic Western, No Country for Old Men follows three men whose lives are interwoven by a drug deal gone bad on the border between Texas and Mexico. Get the lay of the land in the Lone Star State the way it was meant to be seen, on horseback.
Taylor hopes to escape small-town life and start over in Tucson, but that plan is upended when a stranger leaves a Native American child with a tragic past in her care. It seems fitting that this tale of life thriving in the face of a desolate situation should be mirrored in the desert setting of Arizona.
When readers think of Steinbeck, California is one of the first things to come to mind. His ambitious novel, East of Eden, is no exception: two California families, the Hamiltons and the Trasks, spend generations suffering the same fates of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel. Steinbeck wanted his novel to serve as the sights, sounds, smells and colors of Salinas for his two young sons. Discover the town that captured his heart and imagination.