In this remarkeble novel of menace and mystery Pammy and Lyle Wynant are an attractive, modern couple who seem to have it all. Yet behind their “ideal” life is a lingering boredom and quiet desperation which leads both of them into separate but equally fatal adventures. And still they remain untouched, “players” indifferent to the violence that surrounds them, and that they have helped to create.
“Don DeLillo… is original, versatile, and, in his disdain of last year’s emotional guarantees, fastidious… Into our technology-ridden daily lives he reads the sinister ambiguities, the floating ugliness of America’s recent history”
John Updike, New Yorker
“A witty, harrowing and superbly controlled novel about modern alienation and violence”
Don DeLillo - Falling Man
There is September 11 and then there are the days after, and finally the years. _Falling Man_ begins in the smoke and ash of the burning towers and traces the aftermath of that day in the lives of members of a fractured family. Intimate and brave, it is a resonant, compassionate exploration of reconfigured emotions, jolted memories, and irrevocably altered perceptions of the world.
Herman Melville - Moby Dick (angol)
Moby-Dick, written in 1851, recounts the adventures of the narrator Ishmael as he sails on the whaling ship Pequod under the command of Captain Ahab. Ishmael believes he has signed onto a routine commission aboard a normal whaling vessel, but he soon learns that Captain Ahab is not guiding the Pequod in the simple pursuit of commerce but is seeking one specific whale, Moby-Dick, a great while whale infamous for his giant proportions and his ability to destroy the whalers that seek him. Captain Ahab's wooden leg is the result of his first encounter with the whale, when he lost both leg and ship. But Captain Ahab is bent on revenge and he intends to get Moby-Dick. Ahab demonstrates erratic behavior from the very beginning and his eccentricities magnify as the voyage progresses. As the novel draws to a conclusion, the Pequod encounters the whaling ship Rachel. The Rachel's captain asks Ahab to help him in a search and rescue effort for his whaling-crew that went missing the day before - and the captain's son is among the missing. But when Ahab learns that the crew disappeared while tangling with Moby-Dick he refuses the call to aid in the rescue so that he may hunt Moby-Dick instead. The encounter with Moby-Dick brings a tragic end to the affair. Ishmael alone survives, using his friend Queequeg's coffin as a flotation device until he is ironically rescued by the Rachel, which has continued to search for its missing crew. The novel is not only a great American classic, but is also heralded as one of greatest novels in the English language.
Don DeLillo - Ratner's Star
One of DeLillo's first novels, Ratner's Star follows Billy, the genius adolescent, who is recruited to live in obscurity, underground, as he tries to help a panel of estranged, demented, and yet lovable scientists communicate with beings from outer space. It is a mix of quirky humor, science, mathematical theories, as well as the complex emotional distance and sadness people feel. Ratner's Star demonstrates both the thematic and prosaic muscularity that typifies DeLillo's later and more recent works, like The Names (which is also available in Vintage Contemporaries).
Paul Auster - Invisible
Sinuously constructed in four interlocking parts, Invisible opens in New York City in the spring of 1967 when twenty-year-old Adam Walker, an aspiring poet and student at Columbia University meets the enigmatic Frenchman Rudolf Born, and his silent and seductive girlfriend Margot. Before long, Walker finds himself caught in a perverse triangle that leads to a sudden, shocking act of violence that will alter the course of his life. Three different narrators tell the story, as it travels in time from 1967 to 2007 and moves from New York to Paris and to a remote Caribbean island in a story of unbridled sexual hunger and a relentless quest for justice. With uncompromising insight, Auster takes us to the shadowy borderland between truth and memory, authorship and identity to produce a work of unforgettable power that confirms his reputation as one of America's most spectacularly inventive writers.
Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse
This novel is an extraordinarily poignant evocation of a lost happiness that lives on in the memory. For years now the Ramsays have spent every summer in their holiday home in Scotland, and they expect these summers will go on forever. In this, her most autobiographical novel, Virginia Woolf captures the intensity of childhood longing and delight, and the shifting complexity of adult relationships. From an acute awareness of transcience, she creates an enduring work of art.
Toni Morrison - The Bluest Eye
The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove -- a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others -- who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
Jeffrey Eugenides - The Virgin Suicides
First published in 1993, "The Virgin Suicides" announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, "The Virgin Suicides" is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.
Cormac McCarthy - Cities of the Plain
On a ranch in southeastern Texas, soon after World War II, a group of solitary, inarticulately lonely men gathers to work animals as the sun sets for good on the mythic American West. All of these men nurse losses both personal (siblings or wives) and collective (a shared lifestyle and philosophy). Among them is John Grady Cole, the adolescent hero of the first book in Cormac McCarthy's Border trilogy, All the Pretty Horses. John Grady remains the magnificent horseman he always was, and he still dreams too much. On the ranch, he meets Billy Parham, whose own tragic sojourn through Mexico in The Crossing, the second book of the set, continues to quietly suffocate him. The two form a friendship that will nurture both but save neither from the destiny that McCarthy's characters always sense lurching to meet them. Soaked in storm-heavy atmosphere but brightened by the ranch-hands' easy camaraderie and gentle humor, Cities of the Plain surprises with its sweetness. The awkward doomed-romance plot at the center of this tight, concise novel fails to convince, but, remarkably, does little to undercut the book's impact. What lingers here, and what matters, are the brooding, eerie portraits of the plains and the riders, glimpsed mostly alone but occasionally leaning together, who slip across them, over the horizon into memory. --Glen Hirshberg
Sylvia Plath - The Bell Jar
The first and only novel by Sylvia Plath, originally published in 1963. When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. Instead she finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women’s aspirations seriously.
Don DeLillo - The Day Room
The play opens in a brightly lit hospital room occupied by two men. One, the amiable Budge, does Tai Chi exercises while trying, without much success, to strike up a conversation with his taciturn roommate, Wyatt. Then, slowly but inexorably, their world begins to spin away from reality as they are visited by a series of fellow patients and hospital staffers, all of whom, it turns out, may not be what they seem. Oddly normal, but also oddly frightening, it is soon apparent that they have strayed in from the psychiatric ward of the adjacent Arno Klein Wing, and are all quite mad. In the second act, which is set in the day room of the psychiatric ward, the same performers reappear, but with different identities. Some of them, claiming to be actors, transform the room into a tacky motel suite in which a play-within-the-play is to take place; others become tourists searching for the renowned "Arno Klein Theater Company"; and one man, strait-jacketed and tied in a chair, "becomes" a television set. At last Arno Klein himself appears, and proves to be the man (Budge) who started the play. So, in the end, we have come full circle, with appearance and reality, madness and normality, still tantalizingly undefined, and with the growing conviction that all the world may indeed be no more than a stage-and all its inhabitants merely players.
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.
Kazuo Ishiguro - A Pale View of Hills
Etsuko, a middle-aged Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwells on the recent suicide of her elder daughter, Keiko. Despite the efforts of her surviving daughter to distract her thoughts, Etsuko finds herself recalling a particular summer in Nagasaki after the bomb fell.
Iris Murdoch - The Sea, the Sea
Charles Arrowby, leading light of England's theatrical set, retires from glittering London to an isolated home by the sea. He plans to write a memoir about his great love affair with Clement Makin, his mentor, both professionally and personally, and amuse himself with Lizzie, an actress he has strung along for many years. None of his plans work out, and his memoir evolves into a riveting chronicle of the strange events and unexpected visitors-some real, some spectral-that disrupt his world and shake his oversized ego to its very core.
Kazuo Ishiguro - The Unconsoled
Ryder, a renowned pianist, arrives in a Central European city he cannot identify for a concert he cannot remember agreeing to give. But then as he traverses a landscape by turns eerie and comical - and always strangely malleable, as a dream might be - he comes steadily to realise he is facing the most crucial performance of his life. Ishiguro's extraordinary study of a man whose life has accelerated beyond his control was met on publication by consternation, vilification - and the highest praise.
J. D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye
Ever since it was first published in 1951, this novel has been the coming-of-age story against which all others are judged. Read and cherished by generations, the story of Holden Caulfield is truly one of America's literary treasures. Salinger's classic coming-of-age story portrays one young man's funny and poignant experiences with life, love, and sex.
Cormac McCarthy - Suttree (angol)
By the author of Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses, Suttree is the story of Cornelius Suttree, who has forsaken a life of privilege with his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville. Remaining on the margins of the outcast community there--a brilliantly imagined collection of eccentrics, criminals, and squatters--he rises above the physical and human squalor with detachment, humor, and dignity.
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
The exemplary novel of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgeralds' third book, The Great Gatsby (1925), stands as the supreme achievement of his career. T. S. Eliot read it three times and saw it as the "first step" American fiction had taken since Henry James; H. L. Mencken praised "the charm and beauty of the writing," as well as Fitzgerald's sharp social sense; and Thomas Wolfe hailed it as Fitzgerald's "best work" thus far. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, The New York Times remarked, "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s that resonates with the power of myth. A novel of lyrical beauty yet brutal realism, of magic, romance, and mysticism, The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.
Cormac McCarthy - The Road
Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it's not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner. Stealing across this horrific (and that's the only word for it) landscape are an unnamed man and his emaciated son, a boy probably around the age of ten. It is the love the father feels for his son, a love as deep and acute as his grief, that could surprise readers of McCarthy's previous work. McCarthy's Gnostic impressions of mankind have left very little place for love. In fact that greatest love affair in any of his novels, I would argue, occurs between the Billy Parham and the wolf in The Crossing. But here the love of a desperate father for his sickly son transcends all else. McCarthy has always written about the battle between light and darkness; the darkness usually comprises 99.9% of the world, while any illumination is the weak shaft thrown by a penlight running low on batteries. In The Road, those batteries are almost out--the entire world is, quite literally, dying--so the final affirmation of hope in the novel's closing pages is all the more shocking and maybe all the more enduring as the boy takes all of his father's (and McCarthy's) rage at the hopeless folly of man and lays it down, lifting up, in its place, the oddest of all things: faith. --Dennis Lehane
Virginia Woolf - A Room of One's Own / Three Guineas
"A Room of One's Own", based on a lecture given at Girton College Cambridge, is one of the great feminist polemics, ranging in its themes from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to the silent fate of Shakespeare's gifted (imaginary) sister and the effects of poverty and sexual constraint on female creativity. "Three Guineas" was published almost a decade later and breaks new ground in its discussion of men, militarism and women's attitudes towards war. These two pieces reveal Virginia Woolf's fiery spirit and sophisticated wit and confirm her status as a highly inspirational essayist.