Tom Bissell's Top Ten List

    Reader Bio

    Tom Bissell (born 1974) is a journalist, critic, and fiction writer, critic and journalist who covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His books of fiction include God Lives in St. Petersburg: and Other Stories (2005) and Short Stories and Poems (2011). His works of nonfiction include Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia (2003), The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam  (2007), Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter (2010) and Magic Hours: Essays On Creators and Creation (2012).

    All comments by Tom

    1. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871-72). Modern novelistic consciousness, I think, begins with this book.

     

     

     

    2. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922). Despite its longueurs - and boy does it have some - nobody has ever written more definitively about place and more seductively about consciousness.

     

     

    3. Stonerby John Williams (1965). The best "quiet" book I've ever read, and the most heartbreaking.

     

     

     

    4. Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy (1985). The best example of how monstrous violence can be made beautiful.

     

     

     

    5. London Fields by Martin Amis (1990). The apocalypse as stand-up comedy as murder mystery.

     

     

     

    6. Of a Fire on the Moon by Norman Mailer (1971). His most neglected great book.

     

     

     

    7. The Widow's Children by Paula Fox (1976). The most intense novel I've ever read--and the best ending.

     

     

     

    8. Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuscinski (1982). The work that showed me how nonfiction can be as artful and beautiful as fiction.

     

     

     

    9. Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone (1973). Has the single greatest death scene I've ever read, and I read it, probably, every couple of weeks to remind me what prose can do.

     

     

     

    10. Snowblind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade by Robert Sabbag (1998). An impossibly stylish and gripping real-life thriller about life in the cocaine trade.

     

     

    New List

    Top Ten African-American Works

    1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952).
    2. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987).
    3. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977).
    4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937).
    5. Native Son by Richard Wright (1945).
    6. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959).
    7. Another Country by James Baldwin (1962).
    8. Cane by Jean Toomer (1923).
    9. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid (1990).
    10. Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown (1965).



     

    Classic List

    Mary Gaitskill

    1. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).
    2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
    3. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (1962).
    4. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853).
    5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).
    6. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927).
    7. Gusev by Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).
    8. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1904).
    9. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842).
    10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1831).

     





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