America was pretty much a twentieth century project, albeit three or four centuries in the making.
American writers of the nineteenth century such as Thoreau, Emerson and Melville produced more general philosophical ideas that were not in fact particular to the notion of America.
Anyone writing America in the twentieth century was destroyed, in the sense they could not hold the anomalies together and so psychically imploded.
The writer who most successfully depicted America, through his novel The Great Gatsby, famously said that “the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function”.
Scott Fitzgerald was unable to sustain his own dictum and consequently drank himself to death.
Writing America disposed of its other great novelists, Hemingway, Kerouac and S Thompson similarly.
Others – like Sherwood Anderson and William Burroughs – were reacting to their own America-inspired madness in the first place.
Faulkner just about saw it through; even if he failed to see completely through it.
In his novel Amerika, Kafka – himself preternaturally and morbidly sensitive – writing America from a central European perspective, depicts the land as entirely unwelcoming and unforgiving, an alienating place of heavy work and exploitation.
America’s own dictum of “give us your poor” appears to have been aimed precisely at that group, in order to see them abused.
The Mafiosi trilogy of Mario Puzi makes this perfectly clear.
Tom Wolfe – a brilliant writer of ‘New Journalism’ in the nineteen sixties and seventies – attempting in the eighties to write America in his Bonfire of the Vanities could only satirise the greed element fundamental to the failed American project, while other recent attempts to write the Great American Novel by the likes of Norman Mailer, Jonathan Franzen and Don De Lillo have been sprawling WAPO/NYT attempts unable to tackle America complexities.
Now in the twenty-first century we are able to see that the great capitalist-materialist experiment called America has failed humanity in almost every way, leaving planet Earth and its inhabitants with a self-harming paranoid war-machine which threatens to smash the whole globe into purposeless oblivion.
As predicted by arguably the most prescient and accurate chronicler to write America – which it also drove mad: Philip K Dick.