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‘The Hotel New Hampshire’? Really?

A friend recently pointed out a provocative little feature on the Business Insider website. The writers had created a map of the United States and then nominated one book for each state, crowning each one the most important book set in that state. The New Hampshire winner: The Hotel New Hampshire.

The novel, by John Irving, is actually among my favorites. And yes, of course, it is set in New Hampshire. But doesn’t it seem just a little . . . obvious?

I’m not sure what counts as the most important book set in New Hampshire, but there are certainly a lot of terrific options the writers either ignored or discarded. What about the scandalous Peyton Place? What about Our Town, familiar to high school drama clubs far and near? A Prayer for Owen Meany? A Separate Peace?

What about Spoonwood by Ernest Hebert? What about any number of great reads from Russell Banks – including his terrific short story collection called Trailerpark? Or my new favorites, The Last Policeman trilogy, set in Concord?

“Most important” is clearly a subjective ranking, so what do you think?

What is the most important book set in New Hampshire? Send your ideas to along with your name and town.

We’ll publish a collection in an upcoming edition of The Forum.

Legacy Comments1

Metalious' brilliant work - considered trash fiction of a sorts on publication, in reality quite a feminist work written in the midsts of the false façade of the 1950s - has to be the winner. It went where no novel ever went before.

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