“Tom had seen a thousand George Willards go out of their towns to the city.”
Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio is a fascinating collection of short stories. I came across the title while reading Henry Miller’s Nexus. Henry gives his future wife, Mona, the book as a first date gift. Written between 1915-1916, I found some of small town tales quite entertaining and well-written, while others seemed dated and amateur.
Consisting of twenty two stories, a loose narrative is developed around George Willard and his life in Winesburg, Ohio. Anderson’s stories, titled like a moral fable, simply knock you out of your mannerly high chair(in particular Godliness, Drink, and Death). These examples shine in the novel as strong points as a testament to the author’s modern prose. Anderon’s Midwestern morals are intelligent and comical without a trace of arrogance.
On the other hand, Winesburg, Ohio does suffer from provincial town stillness. There is a possibility that some of the stories(Respectability, Tandy) simply reminded me of my own upbringing and therefore seem dull. The aforementioned stories tend to lack the critical punch that most of Anderson’s myths contain.
Winesburg, Ohio and today? After growing up in a small town, most of the stories involving George Willard’s life seem quite commonplace and stale. After doing a little research, most fans of the novel actually grew up in the city. Winesburg, Ohio may possibly be a book to check out if you’re interested in the folklore of middle America, but I’m not sure the next time I’ll be cracking it open again.