Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Party in the U.S.A.
U.S.A. is the slice of a continent. U.S.A. is a group of holding companies, some aggregations of trade unions, a set of laws bound in calf, a radio network, a chain of moving picture theatres, a column of stockquotations rubbed out and written in by a Western Union boy on a blackboard, a public library full of old newspapers and dogeared historybooks with protests scrawled on the margins in pencil. U.S.A. is the world’s greatest rivervalley fringed with mountains and hills, U.S.A. is a set of bigmouthed officials with too many bankaccounts. U.S.A. is a lot of men buried in their uniforms in Arlington Cemetery. U.S.A. is the letters at the end of an address when you are away from home. But mostly U.S.A. is the speech of the people.
Infinite Summer has made reading long books during the summer incredibly popular, so over the next (less than) three months, I’ll be working my way through John Dos Passos’s [insert modifier indicating scale, impressiveness] U.S.A. trilogy, and I invite you to read along. Or, if you’ve read it before, to comment along.
The set-up will be very simple: one book, each month (June, July, August). I’m not going to blog my progress while in the middle of a volume, so there won’t be any weekly schedule or page pacing, just a post or two near the end of each month to walk through the volume and add some commentary. This leaves June a little foreshortened, but I’m finding that the first volume, The 42nd Parallel, really flies by.
For what it’s worth, I found The 42nd Parallel and The Big Money to be fairly engaging, whereas 1919 was, for whatever reason, grindingly boring--a true endurance test. It’ll be interesting to see your take.
Wholeheartedly agree with GeoX. As a whole, though, I found the Trilogy immesurable in its awesomeness. I actually like it much more that Ulysses, which I’ve always felt I had to like in order to sound all smart and all.
This is such a great idea that a few of us at The American Scene did it last fall: http://theamericanscene.com/FOTUSA
I look forward to reading y’all’s reflections on the books. Enjoy!
Almost done with 42nd Parallel!