Every year, during the beginning of winter, I like to hunker down with a novel and take a break from reading poetry for a while. Every November or December, I tend to reread a novel by Thomas Wolfe, my favorite author of fiction. I started this tradition as a way to remember the first time I read his famous novel Look Homeward, Angel. This happened during a winter break in college, and I was immediately awe-struck by his long, ambitious sentences filled with beautiful, poetic lines describing the novel’s rural North Carolina town and protagonist Eugene Gant’s burning desire to leave his hometown and establish a name for himself. I still feel that novel is one of the best American coming-of-age stories told.
This year, I’m rereading The Web and the Rock, Wolfe’s third novel. I’m doing this because I don’t remember the book as well as his other novels. This time, I’m going to read it slower so I do remember the scenes.
Besides The Web and the Rock, I’m also reading Samuel Hazo’s poetry collection Sexes: The Marriage Dialogues. This is a great collection, one I read a few years ago and I’m now going back to. Several of the poems contain arguments between a married couple that involve everything from the way a table is set before dinner to a decision to buy a new car. The form is especially interesting to me because Hazo uses clipped, jagged lines throughout several of the poems. He also centers the poems around dialogue as a way to focus on the language of argument, gender differences, and tension.
I hope the rest of you find a good novel or poetry collection to enjoy during these coming winter months. If you feel like committing to classic literature and a great American novel, then I suggest one by Thomas Wolfe.