Brautigan was in many ways the Hemingway of the 60s—but a Hemingway with a playful sense of humor. His epigrammatic stories and poems are clean and simple, but like a pool of quiet water, sometimes deceptively deep; the individual parts of each of his books are short, but linger in your imagination for a long time like the flavor of the best chocolate envelops your palette; and his subjects are mundane and even naively treated, but sometimes touch on the profound.
An unpredictable, marvelously funny satire peopled by oddball characters only Brautigan could imagine: the Logan brothers pursuing a crime-financed, three-year search for their stolen bowling trophies, a couple practicing sexual fantasies parodying those in The Story of O, and another couple who own Willard, a papier mache three foot bird, and incidentally have acquired the lost trophies. The brief paragraphs telling this madcap tale resemble a constantly interrupted but nevertheless comprehensible conversation with the evidently irrepressible Brautigan.
T. C. Boyle - Drop City
It is the seventies, at the height of flower power. Star has just joined Drop City, a hippie commune in sunny California living the simple, natural life. But underneath the drugs, music and transcendent bliss, she slowly discovers tensions and sexual rivalries that threaten to split the community apart. A world away in Boynton, a tiny town in the interior of Alaska, Sess Harder, a pioneer who actually does live off the land, hunting, trapping and fishing, yearns for someone to share the harsh winters with him. When the authorities threaten to close down Drop City, the hippies abandon camp and head up north to Alaska, the last frontier. But neither they nor the inhabitants of Boynton are completely prepared for each other - and as the two communities collide, unexpected friendships and dangerous enmities are born.
Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter
America’s first psychological novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a dark tale of love, crime, and revenge set in colonial New England. It revolves around a single, forbidden act of passion that forever alters the lives of three members of a small Puritan community: Hester Prynne, an ardent and fierce woman whobears the punishment of her sin in humble silence; the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a respected public figure who is inwardly tormented by long-hidden guilt; and the malevolent Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband—a man who seethes with an Ahab-like lust for vengeance. The landscape of this classic novel is uniquely American, but the themes it explores are universal—the nature of sin, guilt, and penitence, the clash between our private and public selves, and the spiritual and psychological cost of living outside society. Constructed with the elegance of a Greek tragedy, The Scarlet Letter brilliantly illuminates the truth that lies deep within the human heart.
Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections
The Corrections is a grandly entertaining novel for the new century-a comic, tragic masterpiece about a family breaking down in an age of easy fixes. After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man - or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home. Stretching from the Midwest at midcentury to the Wall Street and Eastern Europe of today, The Corrections brings an old-fashioned world of civic virtue and sexual inhibitions into violent collision with the era of home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare, and globalized greed. Richly realistic, darkly hilarious, deeply humane, it confirms Jonathan Franzen as one of our most brilliant interpreters of American society and the American soul.
Don DeLillo - Mao II
"One of the most intelligent, grimly funny voices to comment on life in present-day America" (The New York Times), Don DeLillo presents an extraordinary new novel about words and images, novelists and terrorists, the mass mind and the arch-individualist. At the heart of the book is Bill Gray, a famous reclusive writer who escapes the failed novel he has been working on for many years and enters the world of political violence, a nightscape of Semtex explosives and hostages locked in basement rooms. Bill's dangerous passage leaves two people stranded: his brilliant, fixated assistant, Scott, and the strange young woman who is Scott's lover — and Bill's.
John Irving - The World According to Garp
'Like all extraordinary books, The World According to Garp defies synopsis...' wrote the Chicago Sun-Times when Garp was first published in 1978. It is a marvellous, important, permanent novel by a serious artist of remarkable powers... Garp is a book that captivates all who read it. Peopled with the most extraordinary characters you will ever meet, here is a novel that will make you laugh, make you weep, and, above all, make you think.
Philip K. Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn't 'retiring' them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal -- the ultimate status symbol in a world all but bereft of animal life. Then Rick got his chance: the assignment to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But in Deckard's world things were never that simple, and his assignment quickly turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit -- and the threat of death for the hunter rather than the hunted...
Paul Auster - The Book of Illusions
Six months after losing his wife and two young sons in a plane crash, Vermont professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in alcoholic grief and self-pity. Then, watching television one night, he stumbles upon a lost film by the great silent comedian Hector Mann, and finds himself entranced. His growing obsession with the mystery of Mann's true life story will take Zimmer on a strange and intense journey into a shadow-world of lies, illusions and unexpected love...
James Hogg - The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
James Hogg's most ambitious prose work, _The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner_, is now widely acclaimed as his masterpiece. In the early years of the 18th century, Scotland is torn by religious and political strife. Hogg's sinner, justified by his Calvinist convinction that his own salvation is pre-ordained, is suspected of involvement in a series of bizarre and hideous crimes. A century later his memoirs reveal the extraordinary, macabre truth. The tale is chilling for its astute psychological accuracy as it illustrates, with power and economy, the dire effect of self-righteous bigotry on a fanatical character.
Saul Bellow - Dangling Man
Expecting to be drafted into the army during the Second World War, Joseph has given up his job and carefully prepared for his departure to tha battle front. When a series of mix-ups delays his induction, he finds himself facing a year of idleness. _Dangling Man_ is his journal, a wonderful account of his restless wanderings through Chicago's streets, his musings on the past, his psychological reaction to his inactivity while war rages around the world, and his uneasy insights into the nature of freedom and choice.
Edna O'Brien - Girl with Green Eyes
"I had dyed all our underwear purple. Baba read somewhere that was a sexy colour, and on the way home from Mass we bought five packets of dye." Cait (now Kate) and Baba are installed in their Dublin guest-house, making up for their sheltered upbringing by drinking, wearing lipstick and dressing up for the local men and going dancing. Kate creates a furore by falling in love with Eugene, a non-Catholic who is separated from his American wife and child. When word of their liaison reaches her father, all hell is let loose. Bad girl Baba has also met a married man and she, like Kate, is tormented by desire and fear. Unlike Kate, however, she is still completely impossible. The story of Caithleen and Baba began in _The Country Girls_ and continues in _Girls in Thier Married Bliss_, both published by Penguin.
Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse-Five
In its publication year, Slaughterhouse-Five was nominated for a best-novel Nebula Award and for a best-novel Hugo Award, 1970. It lost both to The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden. Don't let the ease of reading fool you! Vonnegut's isn't a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters..." Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch-22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy–and humor.
Paul Auster - Mr. Vertigo (angol)
Paul Auster's dazzling, picaresque novel is the story of one Walter Claireborne Rawley, renowned nationwide as "Walt the Wonder Boy." It is the late 1920's, the era of Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, and Al Capone, and Walt is a Saint Louis orphan rescued frm the streets by the mysterious Hungarian Master Yehudi, who teaches Walt to walk on air. The vaudeville act that results from Walt's marvelous new abiltiy takes them across a vast and vibrant country, where they meet and fall prey to sinners, thieves, and villains, from the Kansas Ku Klux Klan to the Chicago mob. Walt's rise to fame and fortune mirrors America's own coming of age, and his resilience, like that of the nation, is challenged over and over again. Mr. Vertigo is a bravura celebration of a raucous age, an ambitious and enduringly brilliant tale of trial and triumph.
Vladimir Nabokov - Pale Fire
In Pale Fire Nabokov offers a cornucopia of deceptive pleasures: a 999-line poem by the reclusive genius John Shade; an adoring foreword and commentary by Shade's self-styled Boswell, Dr. Charles Kinbote; a darkly comic novel of suspense, literary idolatry and one-upmanship, and political intrigue.
John Steinbeck - Of Mice and Men
Streetwise George and his big, childlike friend Lennie are drifters, searching for work in the fields and valleys of California. They have nothing except the clothes on their back, and a hope that one day they'll find a place of their own and live the American dream. But dreams come at a price. Gentle giant Lennie doesn't know his own strength, and when they find work at a ranch he gets into trouble with the boss's daughter-in-law. Trouble so bad that even his protector George may not be able to save him.
Lydia Davis - The End of The Story
Mislabeled boxes, problems with visiting nurses, confusing notes, an outing to the county fair--such are the obstacles in the way of the unnamed narrator of "The End of the Story "as she attempts to organize her memories of a love affair into a novel. With compassion, wit, and what appears to be candor, she seeks to determine what she actually knows about herself and her past, but we begin to suspect, along with her, that given the elusiveness of memory and understanding, any tale retrieved from the past must be fiction.
Pankaj Mishra - The Romantics
Pankaj Mishra is one of the most promising talents of his generation, and this stunning, universally praised novel of self-discovery heralds a remarkable career. The young Brahman Samar has come to the holy city of Benares to complete his education and take the civil service exam that will determine his future. But in this city redolent of timeworn customs, where pilgrims bathe in the sacred Ganges and breathe in smoke from burning ghats along the shore, Samar is offered entirely different perspectives on his country. Miss West and her circle, indifferent to the reality around them, represent those drawn to India as a respite from the material world. And Rajesh, a sometimes violent, sometimes mystical leader of student malcontents, presents a more jaundiced view. More than merely illustrating the clash of cultures, Mishra presents the universal truth that our desire for the other is our most painful joy.
David Leavitt - The Lost Language of Cranes
David Leavitt's extraordinary first novel, now reissued in paperback, is a seminal work about family, sexual identity, home, and loss. Set in the 1980s against the backdrop of a swiftly gentrifying Manhattan, The Lost Language of Cranes tells the story of twenty-five-year-old Philip, who realizes he must come out to his parents after falling in love for the first time with a man. Philip's parents are facing their own crisis: pressure from developers and the loss of their longtime home. But the real threat to this family is Philip's father's own struggle with his latent homosexuality, realized only in his Sunday afternoon visits to gay porn theaters. Philip's admission to his parents and his father's hidden life provoke changes that forever alter the landscape of their worlds.
R. K. Narayan - The Guide
Raju's first stop after his release from prison is the barber's shop. Then he decides to take refuge in an abandoned temple. Raju used to be India's most corrupt tourist guide - but now a peasant mistakes him for a holy man. Gradually, he begins to play the part.
Truman Capote - Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Holly Golightly is generally up all night drinking cocktails and breaking hearts. She hasn't got a past. She doesn't want to belong to anything or anyone, not even to her one-eyed rag-bag pirate of a cat. One day Holly might find somewhere she belongs.