Aspen to America: We’re a Major Literary Destination!

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  05.28.09 | 4:59 PM ET

Photo by Molas via Flickr (Creative Commons)

When most people think of Aspen, Colorado, I doubt if the words “literary pilgrimage” pop all that promptly into their heads. But that’s going to change—at least if’s Brandon Wenerd has anything to say about it.

In a feisty blog post, he writes:

For decades, devoted bookworms and “Dead Poet Society” [sic] quoting high school English teachers have flocked to Hemingway’s Key West, Tennessee William’s [sic] New Orleans, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s New York, Steinbeck’s Monterey, Ginsberg’s and Kerouac’s San Francisco, Faulkner’s Mississippi, and Robert Frost’s New England on their summer vacations ... Yet, for whatever reason, well-read literati and travel list arbiters have never ranked Aspen, Colorado on the lists of great American literary destinations.

“Nonetheless,” he goes on, “the river of literary tradition and cultural significance in our quirky mountain community of 6,000 runs wide and deep—perhaps just as deep as any significant college town chockablock with erudite scholars, a research library, and bookish intellectuals with bombastic vocabularies.”

Ooh. Them’s fighting words—though he’ll want to get Tennessee Williams’ name right to really compete with all those erudite scholars. Wenerd backs his claim with an overview of the town’s literary heritage—perhaps most notably, Hunter S. Thompson’s longstanding association with the area—and a selection of 10 books marking Aspen’s territory on the American literary map. It’s an eye-opening list; I’ll admit my free-association, when I hear the word “Aspen,” starts and ends with “skiing.” I’ll see the town a little differently now.

Are you convinced? Is Aspen America’s most underrated literary destination? Are there any other overlooked bookish hot spots?

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

3 Comments for Aspen to America: We’re a Major Literary Destination!

Brandon 05.28.09 | 7:21 PM ET

Oh Captain my Captain, thanks for the mention Eva! For the record, we fixed good ole Mr. Williams’ name and the DPS so we can stand on our desks now and proudly pronounce Aspen’s literary heritage to the world… Thanks again.

Eva Holland 05.28.09 | 10:54 PM ET

Good luck spreading the word, Brandon! Happy to do my bit.

Ling 05.30.09 | 10:04 AM ET

When I hear Aspen, I think of a frozen tongue stuck on cold metal. Anyone here seen Dumb & Dumber?

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