As an expatriated Chicagoan stuck on the East Coast, I find the designation/rubric “flyover zone” just plain stupid, though I am happy to report that the University of Nebraska Press with great good cheer has turned that snarky east coastism on its head with a wonderful fiction series entitled Flyover Fiction edited by the inestimable Ron Carlson.
Now come two items or using the regnant journalistic device , annotated lists purporting, to give the Midwest, the heart and soul of American Civilzation, its due in the airy evanescent reality of literary journalism
John Warner and Andrew Womack, both colleagues at the Morning News, have a book notice site, The Staff Recommends which has a recent item, Readings From Flyover Country listing nine books purporting to represent the Heartland. Setting aside the wearisome issue of the value of lists, this one has the merits of including Nelson Algren and Charles Baxter —that’s all it takes to shut me up.
Ann Clark offers that the newly opened Kurt Vonnegut Library in Indianapolis moved her to think about books from the Midwest, “that mythic region”. Thus we are presented with a list of 13 essential novels— whatever that means(though Vonnegut is not on it). It’s a good list— meaning the books included are really good books.There is Stuart Dybek. There is Marylynne Robinson. But—no Algren, no Baxter, no Jim Harrison ,no Hemingway.