I was reading a NYT review of a recently published book - the journals of author, Alfred Kazin (comprising journal entries from 1933 to 1998!) and I found this excerpt which really spoke to me as being very representative of the American life.

"Yet the most extraordinary element in all this is something difficult, perhaps hazardous, to express; that is, the terrible and graphic loneliness of the great Americans. Thinking about them composes itself, sooner or later, into a gallery of extraordinary individuals; yet at bottom they have nothing in common but the almost shattering unassailability, the life-stricken I, in each. Each fought his way through life — and through his genius — as if no one had ever fought before. Each one, that is, began afresh - began on his own terms - began in a universe that remained, for all practical purposes, his own...” - from Alfred Kazin's Journals, edited by Richard M. Cook