Open Thread: Is ‘Moby-Dick’ the Great American Novel?


Everyone knows that one of a father’s greatest joys is to pass on the things that he loves to his children (a mother’s too, for that matter, but it’s Father’s Day season). In “Trust Me on This,” a great essay series at Salon running through Father’s Day, writers, musicians, athletes and actors answer the question: “What if you could only pass down one thing — one book, movie, album or work of culture — for your sons or daughters to treasure the same way you do?” In the most recent installment, author Christopher Buckley answers without hesitation: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick .

“Most people, indeed smart, literate and nice ones,” Buckley writes, “will tell you that Huckleberry Finn is the great American novel. Remain aloof! Be polite, of course, but adopt a knowing look. Smile. Tell them, ‘Well, [pause] if that’s your kind of thing.'”

Though we definitely acknowledge the greatness that is Moby-Dick, we’re not sure it’s the book we would choose — if only because other books have had greater impacts on our emotional and cultural development. But what do you say, dear readers? What do you consider the “great American novel”? And which book would you pass down to your children (and the children of the world) if you could pick just one?