Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book 53: An American Tragedy and Book Stats.

Title: An American Tragedy
Author: Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)

First Published: 1925
My Edition: Signet Classic (seen at left)
Pages: 859

Other Works Include: Sister Carrie (1900), Jennie Gerhardt (1911), The Titan (1914), Twelve Men (1919), A Gallery of Women (1929)

This book intimidates me. I mean, it is a massive brick of a book with super small print. It scares me because of its sheer size and weight. Besides, it is by an author I have no experience with. So yes, I might have a reason to be frightened.

However, the premise of the novel intrigues me and even before I embarked on my challenge, this book was on my TBR list. I owe that to a young adult novel, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, that I read last year. In the YA novel, the crime committed in An American Tragedy comes into play. Since reading that Donnelly was inspired by Dreiser's work, I knew that I eventually wanted to read this massive brick of a book (and I fully recommend Donnelly's novel as well).

I know that the "Crime" in the crime in the story is about a murder, but if this was just a story about a single murder, I know the author could have shortened it from the 859 pages of tiny text. I am looking forward to how this develops and plays out. And if it can keep me entertained for as long as it will take for me to read it!

I will also be reading Sister Carrie in the future, provided that Dreiser doesn't make me pull all of my hair out.


  1. This is one of those books I've mulled over reading as well... but am also wildly intimidated by it. Why is it so long?!? I wish you all the best with it, and can't wait to hear your thoughts on it. Maybe it'll give me the push I need to try it myself.

  2. I absolutely love this book! The first time I read it, I literally read it in three days. The second time it took me longer (about 2 weeks) but that's because I was reading so many other books and wasn't really in the mood for a reread.

    Ironically, I haven' tbeen able to read A Northern Light because it's just too similar to this book.

  3. I read this last summer, and I found it tragically long. It's not that I didn't like it -- it started out a little slow, then it was really good, then the ending just dragged on FOREVER. I just think Dreiser could have used some editing. There's some great stuff in there but I thought he was belaboring the point. The last section just seemed to go on and on.

    That being said, there is some really interesting stuff in there about the class system here in America, and the American dream and what people are willing to do to achieve it. I'm currently reading Therese Raquin by Emile Zola, which covers some similar stuff -- just a whole lot shorter, and in Paris. It's really good, though. And I have read A Northern Light which I liked very much.

  4. Don't be intimidated! Once you get into it--and if you like trashy drama, you'll get into it--it'll be hard to put down. And you will hate worrying about that antihero. But you will worry!

    Seems like I'm making a lot of encouraging comments about this book lately. But I really think it should be read. It's a great book.