David Foster Wallace

    To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Infinite Jest, Top Ten Contributor Tom Bissel has written a sharp appraisal in the New York Times Book Review. It proposes four theories as to why David Foster Wallace’s masterpiece “still feels so transcendentally, electrically alive. … 

    “Theory 1: As a novel about an “entertainment” weaponized to enslave and destroy all who look upon it, Infinite Jest is the first great Internet novel. …

     “Theory 2: Infinite Jest is a genuinely groundbreaking novel of language. Not even the masters of the high/low rhetorical register go higher more panoramically or lower more exuberantly than Wallace — not Joyce, not Bellow, not Amis. …

    “Theory 3: Infinite Jest is a peerlessly gripping novel of character. …

    “Theory 4: Infinite Jest is unquestionably the novel of its generation.”

    And enjoy David’s list – imagine my thrill when it came in the mail and my surprise when I read the picks which might have seemed in jest except that he was known to praise many of these works. Instead, he made me think about what it means to succeed on one’s own terms.

    David Foster Wallace’s Top Ten List

    1. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis (1942).
    2. The Stand by Stephen King (1978).
    3. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris (1981).
    4. The Thin Red Line by James Jones (1962).
    5. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973).
    6. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988).
    7. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein (1961).
    8. Fuzz by Ed McBain (1968).
    9. Alligator by Shelley Katz (1977).
    10. The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy (1991). 

    New List

    Pearl Cleage

    1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).
    2. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (1947).
    3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937).
    4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960).
    5. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959).
    6. Gorilla, My Love by Toni Cade Bambara (1972)..
    7. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934).
    8. Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen (1890).
    9. China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston (1980).
    10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939).




     

    Classic List

    Edwidge Danticat

    1. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937).
    2. The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942).
    3. Germinal by Émile Zola (1884).
    4. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952).
    5. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).
    6. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987).
    7. Night by Elie Wiesel (1958).
    8. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982).
    9. The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925).
    10. Masters of the Dew by Jacques Roumain (1947).


     





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