F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has often been heralded as the Great American Novel, featuring a titular character, Jay Gatsby, who made the impossible trek from rags to riches in the name of love. “The Land of Opportunity” is what the United States is often known as–a place where it is possible to move up from poverty and struggle, into a house with a white picket fence, and more.
However, an often ignored element of this “Horatio Alger” formula is the necessity of a journey. It is a long and sometimes difficult path from rags to riches (The American Dream), and while the end result is most often pointed out, it’s the journey that is most important–how and why a character chooses to travel. In The Great Gatsby, the narrator, Nick Carraway also makes a physical and emotional trek–out from the Midwest out into the hub-bub and wasteful wealth of 1920’s Long Island. The story starts from his physical destination, but the emotional development has just begun.
Likewise, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the two main characters, Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo (based off Thompson himself and friend Oscar Acosta) make a drive across the desert from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in search of The American Dream.
Similarly, in his infamous novel and “love affair with the English language,” Vladmir Nabokov’s protagonist Humbert takes his underage lover in a long road trip across the United States in Lolita.
Therefore, it seems to me that not only is the American story one of class travel, but of geographical travel as well. America specifically is a car nation–driving is very necessary in most American cities. The rising gas prices, as a result, are a major conflict to the American car nation.
We here at Superstition Review have made our own trek in these past two months in reading, collecting, and editing some of the best literary fiction submitted to us from all over America. For those published, it just may even be a dream come true. Remember, writers and artists, that our submissions period ends October 31st.
Hope to see you published in our next issue!