Fiction Map of the World – USA

by Travelbag on 21 August 2014, 15:08PM

The United States of America is arguably the central global hub of activity within every branch of the arts. The difficult thing in this regard is not finding the hidden gems but attempting to do justice to a place that has produced so much of the greatest works of the last century and more.


Essential Holiday Reading

 For holiday reading I’m going to recommend a novel that has been adapted for the screen many times. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is today viewed as one of the great American novels, but at the time of its release it didn’t garner the acclaim it deserved, so much so that Fitzgerald sadly passed away believing his work to be a failure.The novel itself is told from the viewpoint of Nick Carraway, recently moved to the affluent West Egg, and details his friendship with the initially mysterious Jay Gatsby, his neighbour famous for throwing regular lavish parties at his mansion. Dealing with themes of the American dream and the recklessness of youth and love and tragedy, it is an expertly moulded novel with both style and substance and, quite frankly, should be read by all.


Notable American Books

You may have heard the term the ‘Great American Novel’. It is one attached to several novels that capture the spirit and feeling of the American nation of the time. Great novels such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Moby Dick by Herman Melville and many others.This tradition has continued throughout the last century with further novels such as Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness of the West by Cormac McCarthy and American Pastoral by Philip Roth all being mentioned with the title.In recent times there have been several novel series such as The Twilight saga and The Hunger Games trilogy that have taken the world by storm, just to show American literature is still fresh and capable of capturing the public consciousness.


Notable American Authors

Beyond those already mentioned there are plenty more names to mention, some of which are amongst the best-selling authors of all times worldwide. Names like Stephen King (Carrie, The Shining), master of horror and one of the most prolific writers around today, James Patterson the king of the modern thriller or Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms). For classic noir thrillers try Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely) or Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon), both pioneers of the hard-boiled detective novel.In poetry there’s Ezra Pound, Walt Whitman and the ‘beat generation’ guys such as Jack Kerouac (On The Road), William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch) and Allen Ginsberg (Howl). Or playwrights such as Pulitzer Prize winning Arthur Miller (The Crucible, Death of a Salesman). The list of American writers is littered with towering figures of global literature.

Notable American Films

 American cinema immediately brings to mind a single word: Hollywood. From the famous sign to the walk of fame, it symbolises the glamour and pomp that is Hollywood. The first thing to mention is the big Hollywood blockbusters that Steven Spielberg popularised with films like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Raiders of the Lost Ark. What most tend to associate with American cinema are big-budget films, leading on to the proliferation of superhero films beginning with the success of Batman Begins, the first in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and the modern day box office domination such franchises command.There’s also what some might refer to as the ‘golden age’ of American cinema that included epics such as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca or Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, often mentioned as one of the greatest films of all time (though it missed out on winning the Best Film Academy Award). This leads nicely onto the Academy Awards, the glamourous annual ceremony that, in its familiar format since 1929, is still the greatest accolade in the world of cinema.  


Holiday Listening

It’s would be appropriate for holiday listening to choose arguably the best pop album by one of America’s biggest ever superstars. I’m referring to the king of pop, Michael Jackson, and the album in question is Thriller. It remains to this day the best-selling album of all time and understandably so. Blending a mix of pop, funk, R&B and disco it is a superior collection of tracks that produced seven singles and gave us some of Jackson’s finest moments in Billie Jean, Thriller and Beat It. It also contained four tracks penned by Jackson himself proving there was more to his talents than meets the eye.


Notable American Musicians

America has again produced many of the biggest names in music. It is notable how many genres of music radiate from the US, sometimes from particular states. When you think of jazz you think of New Orleans, when you think of Motown you think of Detroit. Looking closer at those two particular genres the greatest exponents were American; jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane or Miles Davis, or Motown groups such as Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Jackson 5 or even Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.Moving on there’s the rock and roll breakout of the 50’s with Bill Haley and the Comets and Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley through to disco and rock and right through to modern pop there have been ground-breaking artists like Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica and many more. The production line for talent is seemingly endless in the U.S.

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