Well, one of the early classics of American regional writing. Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. I had been hearing about this in literary classes a few times, so when I saw it in a book store here for a mere few bucks I couldn't resist. Anderson recounts the story of a town (Winesburg) and a boy (George Willard) through a dozen short stories each focusing on the life of one of the townfolks. What emerges is a complex, woven net of interacting characters, of life in a small mid-western town. As the author himself explains in the beginning it is a book of the grotesque, all of his characters are suffering from some kind of an affliction. I really enjoyed this short read (150 pages). The only aspect that bothered (or better annoyed) me at times was that Anderson in detailing the coming of age of George Willard deals with issues of masculinity and growing into it that just do not seem valid to the 21st century anymore (or at least not to my understanding of it). Female-male relations especially in regard to sexuality are reduced to a level that is based on clear male dominance, an aspect which takes away from the otherwise existing universality of his characters. He does, beautifully, show the futility of life, the sheer resignation to which people give in (and in this resembles my personal favorite to some extent (or Faulkner actually resembles him considering chronology here)), yet they keep on living, they keep on trying, they keep on being there.
As a merchant Ebenezer was not happily placed in life and he had not been happily placed as a farmer. Still he existed.