Booth Tarkington – Alice Adams

$_35Alice Adams is a triumph for Booth Tarkington in relation to this project. Tarkington started this project in our minds as the most obscure, strange literary figure of the twentieth century. My comrade Drew Moody and I both graduated from the same institution with the same degree and we both came into this project with the same ambition to expand our reading horizons while accomplishing something neat in the process. When we first set our eyes on this historic list we discovered a lot early writers that won that we, and as we have come to discover, that no one has ever heard of: such greats as Harold L. Davis (an author we still haven’t found), Caroline Miller, and Ernest Poole (the most interesting story of any winner). The one we could most confounding, as we sort of conceded that there would be obscure authors, was Booth Tarkington. Drew and I had taken two classes that focused on the time this author lived and that within the span of a few years Tarkington would win the GREAT AMERICAN LITERARY prize, and we both had never heard of him. To boot, only a few of our professors who we keep in contact with, had anything to say about him also. Given all of this, we would have difficultly finding his books, and some humor and drama surrounding us obtaining them.

Taking all of this into this author, Drew and I decided that we would read Tarkington’s first winner The Magnificent Ambersons together, and we successfully started it and finished it close to one another, and were both confounded and appalled by this terrible novel. We both agreed though early in this process, that Ambersons is the worst novel either of have ever read and would be the token choice in response to the question posed to us in posterity. Which brings me to my next topic, reviewing Alice Adams.

This sordid affair takes another strange twist in this long epic that this journey is becoming. I really liked this novel, in places. At a different time in my life, I would think I might not have liked this novel at all, but stacked up against Ambersons, it is a triumph for Tarkington. I would recommend certain readers to read this work of love and loss, of industry and social constraints, but I am not sure stacked up against real literature how this work fairs. Tarkington wrote it well, much much better writing than Ambersons, the language changed, the pacing, the dialogue, which makes me ask a lot of questions about literature of this time period and what we know of it as readers, but anyways. Alice Adams is definitely Tarkington’s foray into Victorianesque literature in the same vein as Henry James, and that doesn’t have a very soft spot in my heart. Taking this into consideration, the sheer fact that I would give this novel the time of day is a testament to its craftsmanship. Given that I dislike the author and dislike the style of writing, Alice Adams surprised me and I think it might surprise other pulitzer readers.


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