“Quiet Days in Malibu” is the first piece of literary non-fiction I’ve covered in this series. This choice is intentional. The personal essay as a form is easily overlooked in the pantheon of literature in part, I think, because of its sobriety.
Edward P. Jones does not represent the Washington D.C. of the mainstream—no national monuments perforating his setting, no overt commentary on policy, no presidential-brand elitism lacing his words. Instead, he simply writes the life of the local everyman and pushes anything beyond that into the background, making excess as
Central Florida, sticky with humidity and restless with sea breeze, inspires the temperature of Hurston’s fiction and, in turn, the temperament of her characters. In her 1926 short story “Sweat,” Hurston chronicles the marriage of Delia, a washerwoman, and her unemployed, abusive husband Sykes.
For this first installment, I’m focusing on John Steinbeck as a representative of the Western region in American literature. Known for his simplistically powerful writing style, Steinbeck is perhaps known even more widely for his commitment to his hometown Salinas, California. With this in mind, Steinbeck’s first short story
And though all the stories follow different lives and the situations they face, it is Farmer’s simultaneous childlike-wonder and knowing restraint that weave these stories together into one, strikingly cohesive collection.