200 Western American Literature Summer 2010 Together by Accident: American Local Color Literature and the Middle Class. By Stephanie C. Palmer. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009. 234 pages, $65.00. Reviewed by Matthew J. Lavin University of Iowa, Iowa City Stephanie C. Palmer's Together by Accident: American Local Color Literature and the Middle Class begins as literary criticism ought to begin, with a textbased observation; specifically, in her case, the insight that the literary motif of "the travel accident," while common enough in literature from any number of locations and historical periods, recurs in nineteenthcentury American local color writing with particularly provocative implications. Palmer begins with the iconic passage in Thomas Bailey Aldrich's An Old Town by the Sea (1893) when a train accident in a small town is employed to signify the death of "local character," which makes "the deaths of all localities seem inevitable" (1, 2). In response to technological advancement, population growth, and urbanization, local colorists fixed their gaze on the provinces. Hence the contemporary critique of local color writing's limitations and with it an explanation of the genre's decline. In the words of Donna M. Campbell, from her Resisting Regionalism (1997), "local color fiction celebrates
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Aug 13, 2010
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