Sittenfeld has always been wonderful in creating the specific feel of the Midwest and the personalities of Midwesterners. There's one lovely passage where the sisters, at seventeen, see a Burger King crown, a tacky promotional gimmick meant to appeal to three-year-olds, blow across a suburban highway in the middle of the night and recognize it as something almost beautiful. She continues, "Our windows were open, and the radio had been playing continuously--not one but two Billy Joel songs had come on during our drive--and the air was dense with the humidity of a Midwestern summer, weather that even then made me homesick, though it was hard to say for what." Those of us who live here or who had the pleasure (or misfortune?) of those summers when we were seventeen, will recognize the moment and will relish its exquisite nostalgia.
Curtis Sittenfeld discusses Midwestern literature at a conference at the U-M Residential College on March 22.
[Originally published in March, 2014.]