Myra Fairfield was an aspiring author who managed to get published; but her two books managed only three stars on the GoodReads and Amazon lists. Tearfully, she implored her agent for help; the best her agent could advise was to avoid too sweeping and grandiose a book that the ordinary reader hanging out in book stores for their markdown books and free Wifi. Too bad! Myra had her heart on writing The Great American Novel. Now, according to Wikipedia, the "Great American Novel" is the concept of a novel that is distinguished in both craft and theme as being the most accurate representation of the spirit of the age in the United States at the time of its writing or in the time it is set. That sounds like a tall order.
But what were the antecedent works that might justify such a lofty title? Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, U.S.A. trilogy, and The Catcher in the Rye* are often mentioned.
Her friend Tom the boxer gave her a tip also: she was punching above her weight. She really wasn't up to writing that kind of book. She was crestfallen; but decided that maybe Tom had a point; maybe the time for the Great American Novel has passed. And many of those alleged great American novels are books that people are assigned or guilted into reading. So she thought, "Screw this! I'll write books that people enjoy reading!"
Myra decided that she might dial it down a bit, and try writing a different kind of book Maybe a period piece, set in Regency times. Yes! She could adorn her work with detailed descriptions of beautiful gowns, magnificent parties, scoundrels, sexy dialogue, and steamy passages. Darn it! This would at least sell! Henry L. Mencken was right: "No one even went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."
And it did much better. But with her fourth novel Myra adopted a more contemporary time frame, wrote a romance with some comic passages and with ironic commentary, and had lots of dishing about gossip, fashions, and relationships. It sold extremely well, and got 5-star ratings!
In short, she wrote the Great American Chick Novel!
*My eyes roll with that one.
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