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The Great American Novel

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It is customary for young aspiring authors in the United States to attempt to write 'The Great American Novel', or to at least pretend that they wish to do so. The nature of The Great American Novel has never been successfully described, except to say that it is a novel1, is great in some quality or quantity, and is written in the American language.

Were it not great, American, or a novel, it would of course be something else entirely. Subjects of The Great American Novel often include:

  • Coming of age stories.

  • Epics that span many generations.

  • Pair-bonding travelogues with some romance involved.

  • Rambling narratives punctuated by incursions from giant robots.

And so on.

Most often, those vying for authorship of The Great American Novel find themselves unable to live up to the standards they have set for themselves. In the interim, they take a job like writing advertising copy while awaiting further inspiration. If given a chance, young aspiring writers might lock themselves in a room for six months with only food and water for company. However, in order to obtain daily necessities like food and shelter, they maintain an occupation which pays well but, ironically, steers them away from their dream.

There are some who believe this is a good thing, because those who recognise the insurmountability of actually completing The Great American Novel will instead go on to write The Great American Piece of Garbage.

And we've got enough of those already.

1Which is to say that it consists of fiction.

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