Herman Melville wrote memorably of Nathaniel Hawthorne that there was a “grand truth” about him: “He says No! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes.” By the same token, many of the readers who have taken the trouble to write regarding our “Great American Novel” poll at Power Line News have said “No! in thunder” to our 21 candidates for the honor.
The greatest number of objections seems to be reserved for our exclusion of The Grapes of Wrath, Lonesome Dove and Atlas Shrugged. On the other hand, only the estimable John Podhoretz has protested the exclusion of The Rise of Silas Lapham. If I had it to do over again, I think I would lobby John Hinderaker to find room for at least one of these books; I’m not sayin’ which.
I intend to take another look at GoW, LD and RoSL, and hope that we might all take another look at one or two of the books on our list — a consummation which, if not devoutly to be wished, would at the least make us all winners.