Monday, December 12, 2005

The Best Books I Read This Year, pt. 3

Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio.

I am attracted to small town stories because they provide a wealth of intercommunication and interpersonal relationships, and the secrets kept by a small town’s inhabitants tend to have larger implications than they might in the anonymous suburbs or urban centers. Anderson compiles these secrets and the characters that keep and reveal them in these compelling interrelated stories. Through the stories are set in early twentieth century rural America, it is easy to forget this setting, because the stories and characters are truly timeless.

Anderson does not romanticize this world but delivers the truth to the reader, dealing with themes and topics that wouldn’t become prevalent in American fiction until nearly a half-century later, including abortion, rebellion against American standards, and questions of faith. Anderson’s skill here, and what ultimately makes the book successful for me, is apparent in the balance he finds between what amounts to social commentary and the intensely personal and introspective.

See also:
The Best Books I Read This Year, pt. 1
The Best Books I Read This Year, pt. 2

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