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Thursday, January 16, 2003

Book review: Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

When I discovered this book, I was already writing a story cycle of my own, The Acorn Stories. Winesburg, Ohio became a strong influence on that book, and also led me to write New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio. In Sherwood Anderson’s acclaimed story cycle, a small town finds itself entering the twentieth century with loneliness and confusion. The same industrialism that Anderson would explore so well in his novel Poor White also asserts itself constantly here, turning a beautiful landscape into a sometimes desecrated one.

The young reporter George Willard appears in most of the stories, providing a connection for people who feel they lack connection and a voice for people who feel they lack a voice. Though many readers consider this book a bleak and disjointed novel, I consider it a collection of stories that interrelate in surprising, often brilliant ways. As for the bleak part, please also look at the many moments of comfort, the many sparks of inspiration.

I eventually lost track of how many times I read Winesburg, Ohio. I just know I’ll read it again.