In the days before the Advanced Placement mania took over the education of high school students, I taught a course called Modern Lit.
It wasn't that modern—20th century, you know Faulkner, Steinbeck, Hemingway—that sort.
The least "modern" was Sherwood Anderson, the author of several novels including the one we read every year: Winesburg, Ohio. Though I never grew up in a stifling and repressive small town like Winesburg (actually Clyde, Ohio), I loved that book. I still remember Elizabeth Willard, Wash Williams, Louise Trunnion, Wing Biddlebaum—those names are off the top of my head after all this time. And of course George Willard, one of American novels' memorable protagonists. There were countless others.
Today's New York Times included a wonderful op-ed piece—a retrospective of Winesburg, emphasizing the influence Anderson had on the other more famous writers. If you struggled through Winesburg with me—or with anyone else—you'll enjoy this short read.
I welcome your comments.