The Saint Louis Library

The chatter about a certain Saint Louis-bred novelist prompted the local alt-weekly, The Riverfront Times, to do a smart thing a few weeks back: flood the zone with extensive coverage of the city’s literary history. Missouri poet laureate David Clewell praises Fielding Dawson as the city’s great unsung writer; Glenn Savan‘s 1987 novel, White Palace, is pitched as the great Saint Louis novel; and Aimee Levitt‘s main article features anecdotes about Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin, and numerous others. The piece points out that William S. Burroughs, Jane Smiley, and Martha Gellhorn all attended the same high school, and how bummed Burroughs was to see how the town cleaned up its act after he graduated:

Burroughs was distressed by changes to St. Louis in his absence: “But what had happened to Market Street, the skid row of my adolescent years?” he wrote in 1965. “Where are the tattoo parlors, novelty stores, hock shops — brass knuckles in a dusty window — the seedy pitchmen — Where are the old junkies hawking and spitting on street corners under the glass lights?”

(The letters page includes a few more recommended Saint Louis authors the RFT’s coverage missed, Stanley Elkin most prominently.)