Sorry, Vonnegut belongs. If only for his memes. Updike, less so except for his influence on a generation of college writing students. Don’t exclude writers, make room for more.

Except maybe Dreiser. He didn’t influence generations of high school students. They made us read him and we did our best to make it look like we did. I tried. I’d read Republic and Machiavelli on my own initiative in tenth grade, but one chapter of Dreiser and I was gasping on the floor, almost comatose from boredom. Maybe I could go back today, but life’s too short.

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Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.

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