Is There Such a Thing As Midwestern Literature?
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I just found her on Wikipedia and discovered that she grew up in the town where I live today, and she also went to the same high school that my son attended (of course a generation or so before he went there). I had no idea.
Midwestern literature? Sure, why not. However, I'll just throw this out and see if anyone bites, to start the discussion. Finding an "identity" for Midwestern literature may be more difficult than other regions, like the South, for example, because you're talking about a huge and diverse area: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota. As a resident of Missouri, I don't feel as though I immediately identify with nor do I have a great deal of affinity for someone from Minnesota, for example.
I'd be interested to hear what others think.
So maybe the first question is, what is the Midwest?
That's the literal definition. Does anyone define the region differently? Is there a "midwestern mindset"?
And that's what I like about the "Midwest."
The standard midwest--is Garrison Keillor, Hamlin Garland, Sinclair Lewis...my mind is going blank now.... Oh--I just finished listening to "Boom- voices of the sixties "by Tom Brokaw- it was my era --and I guess from a Midwest viewpoint--- and sort of feel a connection to him--because he was in my cousin's English class at the University of So Dakota in Vermillion--and I have also been to Vermillion-- ...thanks to Michelle Hoover who invited me to this group--I hadn't figured out how to proceed-and hope I'm not too out of line!!
I'm a little curious what you mean by "anti-Midwest". This past fall I took a trip to the Spoon River Valley with some friends and we read portions of The Spoon River Anthology along our trip. As far as I know ELM did draw his inspiration from one of the cemeteries in central Illinois.(...but I could be misinformed?)
What do you consider the distinctive elements of Midwestern literature? I guess I was just going with a definition of works written about/in or inspired by the Midwest.
crummy town & wants to escape to the big city. Dawn Powell's My Home is far away is another.
More recent novels do not use this theme as much, perhaps not because the Midwest is getting better, but the whole coulntry is becoming the same place.
Garrison Keillor is an interesting example because he writes about a certain kind of Midwest in a manner that is both celebrating it and satirizing it. I think his vision is darker than it's commonly made out to be. (I notice the touchstones aren't working for his name--Midwesterners get no respect.
The Midwest sections of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections capture a certain flavor, too, and the changes that come with this generation.
How about Laura Snelling?
I think I read somewhere recently that of the major living writers North Dakota has produced, only one lives in North Dakota.
To me, I think of Midwest writing as books set in small towns, farms, & ranches, revealing the advantages & disadvantages of that lifestyle. The protagonists should be people who love living there, not those who can't wait to get out.
I'm not trying to offend those of you who live in major cities, but to me, a story set entirely in Chicago, St Louis, or even the Twin Cities, isn't all that Midwestern. Paula
Peter Branvold he writes westerns
And our most famous North Dakota author Louis L'Amour
Just to name a few