Originally Posted by johnnycarson
Oh yes. Joyce and Faulkner, along with Melville are probably my favorite authors right now. After I read TSAF (it was actually the second time, but I'm ~99% sure I did not really read it in high school) I felt like a new world had been opened up to me in terms of what literature could really do.
Joyce is just on another planet. If someone has liked Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, then they might want to give Ulysses a go. It is true the novel requires more concentration then any other book I've read, but the experience is IMMENSE and rewarding. I think the book's reputation for difficulty has unfortunately scared many completely qualified people away from reading it. It is also much, much funnier than people may realize. It is like reading ten at once novels.
So, great recommendations, but yes they've been covered
. Honestly, there are still dozens of other older books that I want to read, but now that I am making the embarrassing transition from reader to aspirant writer, I would like to read some contemporary stuff as well.
Thanks for the recommendations from the other poster as well. I used to think I hated so called post-modernism, but apparently I am a fan of many books that fit the mould. To be honest, I have no idea what the hell it even means anymore. I will say I'm not a fan of Pynchon. Can anyone tell me why The crying of Lot 49
is worth rereading? Many smarter than me like it; I am perplexed.
I'm astonished to think that anyone would ask high school students to read The Sound and the Fury
--though perhaps a good teacher could get students through it if he or she could overcome their initial resistance. (I first tried reading it at 19 and was perplexed by the Benji section.) As for the resistance to Joyce's Ulysses
, I agree that its reputation is unnecessarily inhibiting: I think all those on this list who have read Infinite Jest
and found it rewarding would find Ulysses
easy to respond to.
Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49
was important when it was published because it exemplified an important new strain in fiction--one preoccupied with "reading" and "interpreting" and with the ideas of secrecy and paranoia. And it was short enough that people could get through it easily and say they'd read some Pynchon. The really important Pynchon work remains Gravity's Rainbow
, which--though I haven't gone back to it in a long time--remains worth reading, I would think. I haven't tried his later "big" books but hope to give at least one of them a shot in the not-too-distant future.
In general, recommending (at least somewhat more) contemporary works is tricky because the canon is less established and the field therefore so large. My personal starting places might be with Rohinton Mistry's novels (A Fine Balance
and Such a Long Journey
)--which are great but may not be what you want since they are so much in the tradition of 19th century realism--and Michael Ondaatje's fiction, beginning with In the Skin of a Lion
and The English Patient
. Among the Americans, I suggest coming to DeLillo at an early point, if you haven't already; as well as Toni Morrison (my own favourite is Song of Solomon
, though many would recommend Beloved
); Cormac McCarthy; and Richard Ford.
The contemporary books I've read in the past year that I thought were standouts include Cloud Atlas
(recommended several times now by earlier posters; it would, I guess, be a good example of highly readable postmodernism), The Art of Fielding
(though this title has produced several dissenters on this list), and The Stranger’s Child
. I also found Swamplandia
very satisfying but I'm not sure if it's one for the ages ...