... James Sallis recalls three Great unknowns. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Regrettably, Sallis continues the misunderstanding about the American Dream: "Among the bleakest, most resolutely existential novels ever written, it belongs up there on the shelf with James M. Cain's 'The Postman Always Rings Twice,' Hammett's 'Red Harvest,' and a handful of others that serve as landmarks of the time when the truth of the great American dream first began burning holes through the paper."
The American Dream is not a dream of crass materialism. The phrase was coined by James Truslow Adams in The Epic of America. He describes it thus: "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." This is the dream Martin Luther King was referring to in his great speech. It remains a worthy dream. And it is unworthy to identify it with the cheap hopes of low characters.