Karl Bridges

100 Great American Novels You’ve (Probably) Never Read, by Karl Bridges
Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2007

greatamnovelsPublished in 2007, 100 Great American Novels You’ve (Probably) Never Read is an attempt by Karl Bridges, librarian and associate professor at the University of Vermont’s Bailey/Howe Library, to provide a resource for readers of American fiction who’ve read their way through the standard canon of classics. “One goal of this book,” Bridges writes in his Introduction, “is to represent a wide time span–one equaling the length of American history”, and the novels listed cover a full 200 years: from Charles Brockden Brown’s Edgar Huntly, or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walkerstyle=border:none (1797) to Charles T. Power’s In the Memory of the Foreststyle=border:none (1997).

For each listing, Bridges provides:

  • A paragraph or so extract from the work to give a sense of the writer’s style;
  • A synopsis of the story;
  • Bridges’ own critical commentary, informed by what he estimates as over 50,000 hours of reading;
  • A biographical sketch of the author;
  • A selected list of his/her other works;
  • References and other suggested sources about the author and the novel

In some cases, the information Bridges assembles represents more than anyone has ever collected on the author and novel. His choices also reveal a broad and eclectic taste, one that includes not only mainstream fiction but genres such as science fiction, serials, detective tales, and novels for young adults.