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Benjamin Myers reviews Spoon River America: Edgar Lee Masters and the Myth of the American Small Town by Jason Stacy. Stacey explores the changing and contested myth of the midwestern small town, particularly in relation to Masters’s famous Spoon River Anthology. In Spoon River and its echoes throughout literary and popular culture, innocence struggles with cynicism, tradition with modernity, and a persistent populism with a perpetual elite.
In some ways, the little farming community of Hallettsville where I have spent a writing sabbatical still resides in a simpler time. Czechs and...