E Pluribus Unum

On John Dos Passos’s U.S.A.

“all right we are two nations”

Dos Passos’s formal ambitions — the works are not conventional novels, but rather collages of voices, found language, stream-of-consciousness descriptions, “newsreels,” set pieces offering capsule biographies of inventors and thinkers such as Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Thorstein Veblen, and Charles Steinmetz, and running narratives following the development of a handful of characters — were bold at the time of writing and remain striking today. As Alfred Kazin astutely wrote of the first book in the series:

A shorter version of this essay appears in 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich. Copyright © 2018 by James Mustich. Published by Workman Publishing.

Now: Author, 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die. Then: publisher and chief bookseller, A Common Reader. https://www.1000bookstoread.com/

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