American Pop: A Novel

American Pop: A Novel

by Snowden Wright


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"The House of Forster is built on bubbles; watching each wealth-addled generation try not to blow the family fortune and/or disgrace its name provides not only excellent Southern Gothic fun but a panoramic tour of the American Century."— Jonathan Dee, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Privileges

The story of a family.
The story of an empire.
The story of a nation.

Moving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again, a saga of family, ambition, passion, and tragedy that brings to life one unforgettable Southern dynasty—the Forsters, founders of the world’s first major soft-drink company—against the backdrop of more than a century of American cultural history.

The child of immigrants, Houghton Forster has always wanted more—from his time as a young boy in Mississippi, working twelve-hour days at his father’s drugstore; to the moment he first laid eyes on his future wife, Annabelle Teague, a true Southern belle of aristocratic lineage; to his invention of the delicious fizzy drink that would transform him from tiller boy into the founder of an empire, the Panola Cola Company, and entice a youthful, enterprising nation entering a hopeful new age.

Now the heads of a preeminent American family spoken about in the same breath as the Hearsts and the Rockefellers, Houghton and Annabelle raise their four children with the expectation they’ll one day become world leaders. The burden of greatness falls early on eldest son Montgomery, a handsome and successful politician who has never recovered from the horrors and heartbreak of the Great War. His younger siblings Ramsey and Lance, known as the “infernal twins,” are rivals not only in wit and beauty, but in their utter carelessness with the lives and hearts of others. Their brother Harold, as gentle and caring as the twins can be cruel, is slowed by a mental disability—and later generations seem equally plagued by misfortune, forcing Houghton to seriously consider who should control the company after he’s gone.

An irresistible tour de force of original storytelling, American Pop blends fact and fiction, the mundane and the mythical, and utilizes techniques of historical reportage to capture how, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words, “families are always rising and falling in America,” and to explore the many ways in which nostalgia can manipulate cultural memory—and the stories we choose to tell about ourselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062697745
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 178,488
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Born and raised in Mississippi, Snowden Wright has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.F.A. from Columbia University. He has written for The Atlantic, Salon, Esquire, the Millions, and the New York Daily News, among other publications, and he previously worked as a fiction reader for The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Paris Review. Wright’s small-press debut, Play Pretty Blues, was the recipient of the 2012 Summer Literary Seminar’s Graywolf Prize. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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American Pop 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
American Pop by Snowden Wright is a highly recommended generational Southern family saga involving a cola dynasty. The Forster family was the founder of the world’s first major soft-drink company, the Panola Cola Company, and this is the story of their rise and fall across a century. Houghton Forster is the founder who developed a delicious fizzy drink with a secret ingredient that helped create a cola dynasty in Mississippi and propelled him and his family to the upper reaches of society as the demand for PanCola swept across the country. Houghton and his wife, Annabelle, have four children, Montgomery, Harold, and twins Ramsey and Lance. The chapters do not follow a chronological timeline, but jump from different periods in time. Two things are important to notice and use while reading: dates at the opening of chapters will set you in the right time period and the family tree at the beginning of the book will assist in identifying the characters until you know them more intimately. While all the characters may seem overwhelming at the beginning, if you stay with the novel the narrative will all start to make sense and fall into a timeline. It is rather essential to take it slow at first and learn who the characters are and where they fit into the family and the saga. Once you have a grip on who fits where and when, the narrative will move faster. Along the way the novel Wright utilizes the technique of adding real and imagined historical quotes and mythical reports, blending fact and fiction which adds a depth to the narrative and makes the novel feel more like a biographical piece on a real family soda dynasty. I liked this touch quite a bit. As you were learning some of the private inside information about the lives of the family, there is the added dimension of the historical public view of the Foresters. The result is an intricate family saga with a complex mythology. The quality of the writing is very good. The text is brimming with wit, irony, anecdotal digressions, and recognizably Southern sayings. At the same time there are also heartbreaking, tragic moments contrasting with incidences of great passion. Ultimately the characters are well-developed. At the end, you can almost believe that this Southern Gothic novel is a real biography of the first cola dynasty. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins