The magnificent second novel from the legendary author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…
Following the astonishing success of his first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey wrote what Charles Bowden calls “one of the few essential books written by an American in the last half century.” This wild-spirited tale tells of a bitter strike that rages through a small lumber town along the Oregon coast. Bucking that strike out of sheer cussedness are the Stampers. Out of the Stamper family’s rivalries and betrayals Ken Kesey has crafted a novel with the mythic impact of Greek tragedy.
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.
John Steinbeck - East of Eden
Set in the rich farmland of the Salinas Valley, California, this powerful, often brutal novel, follows the interwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations hopelessly re-enact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of indentity; the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love's absence.
William Gibson - Neuromancer
Twenty years ago, it was as if someone turned on a light. The future blazed into existence with each deliberate word that William Gibson laid down. The winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, Neuromancer didn't just explode onto the science fiction scene--it permeated into the collective consciousness, culture, science, and technology. Today, there is only one science fiction masterpiece to thank for the term "cyberpunk," for easing the way into the information age and Internet society. Neuromancer's virtual reality has become real. And yet, William Gibson's gritty, sophisticated vision still manages to inspire the minds that lead mankind ever further into the future.
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.
Mario Puzo - The Godfather
The Godfather is an extraordinary novel which has become a modern day classic. Puzo pulls us inside the violent society of the Mafia and its gang wars. The leader, Vito Corleone, is the Godfather. He is a benevolent despot who stops at nothing to gain and hold power. His command post is a fortress on Long Island from which he presides over a vast underground empire that includes the rackets, gambling, bookmaking, and unions. His influence runs through all levels of American society, from the cop on the beat to the nation's mighty. Mario Puzo, a master storyteller, introduces us to unforgettable characters, and the elements of this world explode to life in this violent and impassioned chronicle.
Milan Kundera - The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Kundera offers an imposing perspective: the 'Universal Story', to put it this way. This worldview is expressed in his apparently emotional stories - apparently emotional because, according to Kundera, in real life there are no great, straightforward sentiments. Rather, the human relationships described by Kundera are always quite cynical and cold. In this way he constructs a whole world centred around his characters. A world that has a historical dimension, which he never fails to notice with stinging criticism. This naturalism must be viewed against the backdrop of Kundera's experiences. In fact, Tereza's Bohemia described in the novel is Kundera's very Bohemia. Also the repressions that Tereza and her lover Tomas suffer under the Soviet Regime have an autobiographic background. These experiences have led Kundera to take a ferociously critical stance against the Soviet Regime, also expressed in his novel 'The Joke', in which the author evokes the times of his expulsion from the communist party. This gloomy, almost Kafkaesque atmosphere pervades every aspect of Kundera's narrations, at times even overshadowing the plot. Needless to mention, also Kafka was a blind novelist. With Kundera, it is the weight of history that messes up the protagonists' lives. He reveals his characters as humble marionettes, subject to the 'conditions' that deny the characters real freedom. Especially Tomas triggers off these reflections. He muses upon his utterly fortuitous encounter with Tereza. It was brought about by a mixture of random coincidences. Human existence and therefore life itself is a fatality, governed by extraneous variables. Hence the novel's conclusion is implicit in its premises. If every effect is as causal as the causes, it follows that everything must eventually be nullified in a great vacuum, an impalpable Zero.
Kurt Vonnegut - Macskabölcső / Cat's Cradle
"Ebben a könyvben egyetlen szó sem igaz" - így kezdődik Kurt Vonnegut számtalan kiadásban és nyelven megjelent nevezetes regénye. Viszont minden egyes szavát elhisszük - tehetnénk hozzá. A zárt szerkezetű, feszes ritmusú történet fatális véletlenek szükségszerűen egymásra következő sorozata. Felix Hoenikker otromba különc, ám zseniális tudós, aki játékos kedvében feltalálja a földi életet pillanatok alatt kioltani képes szuperjeget. A veszedelmes anyag szilánkjait a torzszülött, ám a maguk módján szintén zseniális Hoenikker-gyerekek öröklik, és juttatják el a távoli San Lorenzo szigetére. A kicsiny és terméketlen sziget államformája a totális diktatúra, titokban gyakorolt vallása az emberek tökéletes testvériségét meghirdető, sőt megvalósító, a vigasztaló hazugságokra épülő bokononizmus. Bokonon próféta teremtő tanainak a szuperjég pusztító erejével is szembesülniük kell. E találkozás "naplója" ez a különös, egyszerre mulatságos és megrendítő kötet, amely Vonnegut írásművészetének teljes gazdagságával bilincseli le az Olvasót. A szívszorító látomás tiltakozás mindennemű diktatúra ellen, ugyanakkor figyelmeztetés is: a puszta ráció hideg lehelete fagyhalálra ítéli a humánumot. Vonnegut varázslatos regényét ezúttal nemcsak magyarul, de eredetiben is élvezhetjük.
Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Long cherished by readers of all ages, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is both a hilarious account of an incorrigible truant and a powerful parable of innocence in conflict with the fallen adult world. The mighty Mississippi River of the antebellum South gives the novel both its colorful backdrop and its narrative shape, as the runaways Huck and Jim—a young rebel against civilization allied with an escaped slave—drift down its length on a flimsy raft. Their journey, at times rollickingly funny but always deadly serious in its potential consequences, takes them ever deeper into the slave-holding South, and our appreciation of their shared humanity grows as we watch them travel physically farther from yet morally closer to the freedom they both passionately seek.
Donna Tartt - The Secret History
This novel is set on a small college campus in Vermont. Dissatisfied with the crass values of their fellow students, a small corps of undergraduates groups itself around a favored professor of classics, who nurtures both their sense of moral elevation and an insularity from conventional college life that ultimately proves fatal. Among Prof. Julian Morrow's followers are Henry Winter, a tall scion of a wealthy St. Louis family, the twins Charles and Camilla Macaulay, both intellectually gifted and eccentric only in their excessive mutual devotion; Francis Abernathy, a dandyish homosexual slowly awakening to his sexuality; and Edmund (Bunny) Corcoran, who becomes the group's victim.
Thomas Pynchon - Gravity's Rainbow
Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century as Joyce's Ulysses was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.
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.
Sinclair Lewis - Babbitt (angol)
Sinclair Lewis wrote a series of satires that exposed the hypocrisy of early 20th century America. "Babbitt" is a snapshot of the life of George F. Babbitt, a somewhat prosperous middle class businessman who lives in Zenith, Ohio. Zenith has a population of 300,000+, and has an active business community. This community has its own rituals and ironclad rules. These rules consist of being one of the gang, being a member of all the right clubs and organizations, and never deviating from the ideals of business and money. These rules cause enormous difficulties for Babbitt when he goes through a midlife crisis at the end of the book and begins spouting liberal ideas and associating with the "wrong" crowd. This is my first encounter with Sinclair Lewis. I really don't know why I chose to read "Babbitt" first, as I also have copies of "Main Street" and "Arrowsmith." I think it was the unusual cover of the Penguin edition, which is a picture of a painting called "Booster" by Grant Wood. To me, that picture IS Babbitt, and I'll always be able to see Babbitt in my head whenever I'm reminded of this book.There really isn't a lot of symbolism here (and the symbolism that is here is pretty easy to decipher) and the prose is much closer to our present day writing and speech. This is brilliant satire, and you'll laugh out loud at many of the situations Babbitt gets himself into. An especially hilarious incident occurs when one of the local millionaire businessmen finally accepts an invitation to dine with Babbitt. The evening goes badly because Babbitt is in a lower social class. Lewis then shows Babbitt going to a dinner at an old friends house who is in a lower class then him. It's hilarious to see the similarities between the two events, and it brings home how class is strictly enforced in Zenith, and by extension, America. Babbitt is a person that I found myself both hating and liking, often within the space of one page. He's ignorant, in that he is a major conformist who often repeats slogans and phrases merely because others in his circle say the same things. He's a namedropper who refers to people he doesn't even know as though they were his best friends. He's also high volume. Babbitt is one of those people we all know who is always boisterous and noisy so they can hide their own insecurities or ignorance. Just when you think you can't stand Babbitt for another second, Lewis tosses in a situation that makes you feel for the man. Babbitt is the boss at a real estate company, and he worries about his employees liking him. When a confrontation arises with one of his salesmen, Babbitt frets and doesn't want to fire the guy, although the rules of business eventually force him to do exactly that. He wants all of his employees to like him. He also feels bad about cheating on his wife while she is away and worries about what his children will think of him when he comes in drunk after a night of carousing. Ultimately, although Babbitt can be a major heel, the reader is almost forced to sympathize with him. This is true especially at the end of the book, when Babbitt renounces his liberal ways and rejoins his old colleagues. His return to the pack is not quite complete, however. Babbitt is changed by his transgression, and has learned a few lessons that he imparts to his son on the last page of the book, thus ending the tale on an upbeat note. This book is both funny and sad, but well worth reading. Sinclair Lewis eventually won Pulitzer and Nobel prizes for his literary endeavors. It's not hard to see why. Recommended.
Toni Morrison - Beloved
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of 1988, Toni Morrison frees herself from the bonds of traditional narrative and establishes an independent style, just as her characters have freed themselves from the horrors of slavery and escaped from Kentucky to Ohio. Revealing the story of Sethe and her family as they survive the brutality of the farm, only to encounter torments even more punishing than whippings after they escape, Morrison presents scenes in a seemingly random order, each scene revealing some aspect of life for Sethe, her boys, her dead baby Beloved, and the new baby Denver, both in the past and in the present. Moving back and forth, around, and inside out through Sethe's recollections, she gradually reveals Sethe's story to the reader, its horror increasing as the reader makes the connections which turn disconnected scenes into a powerful and harrowing chronology.
Truman Capote - In Cold Blood
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Bloodis a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.
Edith Wharton - Ethan Frome
Life is always hard for the poor, in any place and at any time. Ethan Frome is a farmer in Massachusetts. He works long hours every day, but his farm makes very little money. His wife, Zeena, is a thin, grey woman, always complaining, and only interested in her own ill health. Then Mattie Silver, a young cousin, comes to live with the Fromes, to help Zeena and do the housework. Her bright smile and laughing voice bring light and hope into the Fromes' house - and into Ethan's lonely life. But poverty is a prison from which few people escape . . .
Ken Kesey - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is the seminal novel of the 1960s that has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time. Here is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome powers that keep them all imprisoned.
Bret Easton Ellis - American Psycho
Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and works on Wall Street; he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. American Psycho is a bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognize but do not wish to face and it takes us on a head-on collision with America's greatest dream - and its worst nightmare.
Bret Easton Ellis - Less than Zero
Set in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, this coolly mesmerizing novel is a raw, powerful portrait of a lost generation. They experienced sex, drugs, and disaffection at too early an age, and lived in a world shaped by casual nihilism, passivity, and too much money. Clay comes home for Christmas vacation from his Eastern college and reenters a landscape of limitless privilege and absolute moral entropy, where everyone drives Porsches, dines at Spago, and snorts mountains of cocaine. He tries to renew his feelings for his girlfriend, Blair, and for his best friend from high school, Julian, who is careering into hustling and heroin. Clay's holiday turns into a dizzying spiral of desperation that takes him through the relentless parties in glitzy mansions, seedy bars, and underground rock clubs, and also into the seamy world of L.A. after dark.
Sigrid Undset - Kristin Lavransdatter (angol)
In her great historical epic Kristin Lavransdatter, set in fourteenth-century Norway, Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset tells the life story of one passionate and headstrong woman. Painting a richly detailed backdrop, Undset immerses readers in the day-to-day life, social conventions, and political and religious undercurrents of the period. Now in one volume, Tiina Nunnally’s award-winning definitive translation brings this remarkable work to life with clarity and lyrical beauty. As a young girl, Kristin is deeply devoted to her father, a kind and courageous man. But when as a student in a convent school she meets the charming and impetuous Erlend Nikulaussøn, she defies her parents in pursuit of her own desires. Her saga continues through her marriage to Erlend, their tumultuous life together raising seven sons as Erlend seeks to strengthen his political influence, and finally their estrangement as the world around them tumbles into uncertainty. With its captivating heroine and emotional potency, Kristin Lavransdatter is the masterwork of Norway’s most beloved author—one of the twentieth century’s most prodigious and engaged literary minds—and, in Nunnally’s exquisite translation, a story that continues to enthrall.