Thursday, February 19, 2009

It Has Been Brought to My Attention that America Has Some Great Authors Who Do NOT Live on the East Coast

Between Erik's (very fair) comments in this post, and this NY Times editorial on Wallace Stegner today, I've become aware that I've never really read much "great" literature from authors from the west. There are many reasons for this, both professionally (I almost never picked up any fiction before completing comps), as well as my own neuroses (I rarely read anything by living authors, with Philip Roth being the major exception) and tastes (I just don't care about fishing, so something like A River Runs Through It seems like something that would bore me - yes, it may be about other things besides fishing, but everybody presents fishing as a major recurrent narrative structure in it, and I just don't care). Hell - I don't usually buy into the "East Coast bias" conspiracy theories (particularly in sports - nothing was as satisfying last year as hearing West Coast writers say, "nobody picked the Angels because of East Coast bias!", and then watching the Angels, who were highly overrated in a terrible division, get ousted in the first round), but in the case of literature, I think upon reflection that you could at least make a decent argument of regionalism and coastal snobbery. I may even be a product of that publishing snobbery, to some extent. Sure, I've read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (one of my all-time favorites), and I'm aware of Larry McMurtry (whose books also seem uninteresting to my tastes); I've read a bit of Willa Cather (in high school), and I'd like to read Cormac McCarthy's border trilogy and The Road sometime. All in all, though, I just don't know who the west's "great" authors are.

So, to our readers who know more about this than I do......which authors from the West should I (or anybody else) read?