When I think of American literature, I think of Ernest Hemingway. Sure, there are other, more boring literary Americans: Hawthorne and Melville spring to mind. John Steinbeck begs to be mentioned, too. But can any other writer so magically capture the spirit of America?
Papa was a man of massive talent, over-flowing with talent. (Just as the United States began as a nation overflowing with resources and possibilities.) He spent much of his life exploring foreign countries (that's the US all right, always sticking its nose in other countries' affairs!). He was a physically powerful, rugged individual who devoted his free time to consumption, be it booze, women or trophy animals. And he utterly destroyed himself, finally committing suicide in 1961. (Here in my analogy, all I can say is: o_O)
But beyond being a man infused with the American spirit, he was also an amazing artist. He earned the Nobel prize in 1954 for the novel The Old Man and the Sea. His words have influenced the following generations of American writers more deeply than almost any other compatriot--his style has been aped or rejected or lauded in almost every writing instruction book I've ever picked up.
So I celebrated the 4th of July, our American national holiday, with a dessert inspired by Papa. Hemingway spent a great deal of time in Florida and the Caribbean, where he may have become enamored with the wonderful treat of Key Lime Pie. I whipped up a very basic Key Lime pie and gave it a red-white-&-blue flair, with a blueberry garnish and an ad hoc red berry sauce. The red berry sauce is especially American, since it is made with Concord grapes--a truly American grape varietal!
Here's my recipe for the sauce:
Ad Hoc Red Berry Sauce1/2 C fresh or frozen strawberries & raspberries, defrosted if frozen1 tsp sugar1/4 C Concord Grape JellyThoroughly mash the berries and stir in sugar. Heat grape jelly until liquidized and pour over the berry mixture. Stir together and chill until cold.
So go out there and celebrate your favorite American authors! If Hemingway leaves you cold, and you're desperate to escape literary fiction, try enjoying some great Speculative Fiction writers. Whip out some Ursula K. Le Guin. Try Octavia Butler if you've never read her work. Or try my favorite, Sheri S. Tepper, another fantastic feminist SF/F writer. Craving something darker? Anne Rice, Stephen King and Peter Straub are all patriotic choices.
Whatever you read, enjoy it with a slice of Key Lime Pie!