Writing America : Literary Landmarks From Walden Pond to Wounded Knee (A Reader's Companion)
Booklist Reviews 2015 December #2
*Starred Review* Distinguished scholar and writer Fishkin, director of American studies at Stanford University, traces her career-launching fascination with Mark Twain to a childhood visit to his home in Hartford, Connecticut. With that defining moment in mind, along with a penetrating understanding of how place has shaped American literature and how literature has imbued certain locations in America with meaning and resonance, Fishkin offers a unique and invaluable survey of more than 100 American literary landmarks, which range from authors' homes to "streets, theaters, chapels, schools, docks, plantations, and battlefields; a statue, a body of water, a bicycle shop, a ship, a YMCA, a factory, a hotel, graveyards, internment camps, a lighthouse and an irrigation pumping station." Most chapters are dedicated to an individual writer, including Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, and Langston Hughes. But Fishkin also gathers multiple voices in her delving coverage of Native American, Jewish immigrant, Asian American, and Mexican American writers. The biographical sketches are vivid, involving, and well-illustrated with photographs old and new. Fishkin also provides examples of each writer's work, visitor information, and "further reading" suggestions. The depth of Fishkin's knowledge and the dynamism of her enthusiasm elevate this "reader's companion" from superb resource to lustrous and delectable American literary history. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2016 January #1
Fishkin (English, director of American studies, and Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, Stanford Univ.; Mark Twain's Book of Animals) offers lengthy essays on literature-related places that book lovers can add to their travel plans. Around half of the entries are dedicated to locations in the northeastern United States, such as Walden Pond in Massachusetts and New York's Tenement Museum. Also profiled are, for example, Angel Island Immigration Station, San Francisco, and Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, CA. The essays, which are complemented by large black-and-white photos, chronicle the life of the place in question and provide detail on its literary connection. "The House That Uncle Tom's Cabin Bought," for example, which covers the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, CT, describes its construction and architecture, Stowe's purchase and decoration of the home after the worldwide success of her novel, additional places where the author lived, and more. Some of the other essays describe a larger area and multiple related literary works; both styles of essay will be valuable tourist guides. VERDICT A must for book-loving travelers of the armchair and more intrepid kinds.[Page 134]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2015 August #2
America's literary landscape proves both vast and interconnected in Stanford professor Fishkin's (Lighting Out for the Territory) newest book, which shines a light on the relationships between American authors and the places where they live and work. Using the National Register of Historic Places as her guide, the author sparks interesting questions regarding how writers influence, and are influenced by, place. The locations discussed include Walden Pond, Angel Island in San Francisco Bay (the onetime site of a processing center for Asian immigrants depicted in Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men), and the Brooklyn Ferry (discussed in relation to Walt Whitman). Chapters on Mark Twain and the massacre at Wounded Knee deal with the difference between history and memory. The influence of the writers included is far-reaching: Fishkin shows Paul Laurence Dunbar and Kingston tearing through racial barriers and Whitman helping to redefine the literary landscape, not just for other Americans but for writers such as Federico García Lorca, Jorge Luis Borges, and Pablo Neruda who read Whitman from afar. With passages by the various authors, Fishkin's book offers a diverse look at our nation's literary landscape and history. (Nov.)[Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC