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Great American Novel Map

1litmap11litmap2I so covet this map, which arrives in the mail at work as a gift from the maker, Hog Island Press in Philadelphia. “The Great American Novel: Places from the pages of America’s finest literary works” chronologically celebrates 42 of the most important works of fiction inspired by life in the United States. It’s just exquisite–hand-drawn and printed on archival paper. Listed are some favorites of mine, The Age of Innocence, The Great Gatsby, The Sound and the Fury, and The Catcher in the Rye. I’m slightly disgruntled that Grapes of Wrath is picked in stead of East of Eden. This makes a great gift for book-lovers, and serves as a resource of reading lists!

“Literature Map”

I like to read. I have many “favorite” authors. Reading their work keeps me busy, but I try to keep open to authors I have not tried yet. Sometimes I get recommendations from family and friends, but I have begun to use the Internet for more recommendations. The literature map site is a new way for me to find authors I can expect to like. Type in an author’s name at the Web site and you get names of other authors. The other authors move away from the center. According to the site developer, the closer another author’s name is to the one you entered, the more you should like their work.

Here is the result of typing Jorge Luis Borges into the site.
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The closest, interrelated authors are the ones I have read and highly regarded: Jose Saramago, T.S. Eliot, and Italo Calvino. They are authors whose imaginative power never exhausts. They place their characters into ordinary situations that veer off to the imaginary realms. Irony the destiny of many of their works.

A different picture results for Mikhail Bulgakov.
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Although his works, including the most famous and creative The Master and Margarita, a sarcastic work of the Stalin period, were banned during his lifetime, Bulgakov is heavily influenced by Lemontov, Pelevin, Dovlatov, and Edward Albee, none of whom I have read.

Apropos of his being under-read and overlooked, L.P. Hartley doesn’t exist on this device.