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Percival Everett

It is one of the most profound, and entertaining, questions we can ask: what if? The idea of taking that untaken road – which ya can’t cause ya didn’t - allows us to wrestle and play with the paradoxical polarities and of fate and free (that manage, somehow, to curve round and meet in the middle.

Top Ten contributor Percival Everett is the latest distinguished writer to ask this question in his 33rd (34th and 35th) published book – the novel ... read more ...

The Book: The Top Ten

    Ron Rash

       Ron Rash has received many glowing reviews, but it would be hard to top the mash note he received from Janet Maslin last week for Something Rich and Strange, “a major short-story anthology that can introduce new readers to this author’s haunting talents and reaffirm what his established following already knows.”

    Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge

    Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969) by Evan S. Connell. This his and hers pairing, like twinned guest towels, reveals dirty fingerprints on the underside of a tidy looking 1930s Midwestern, middle-class marriage.

    Brideshead Revisited

    Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (1945). Waugh was one of the twentieth century’s great satirists, yet this novel, widely considered his best, is not satiric. It is, instead, an examination of Roman Catholic faith as it is used, abused, embraced, and rejected by the Flytes, an aristocratic English family visited by alcoholism, adultery, and homoeroticism.

    How German Is It

    How German Is It by Walter Abish (1980). Abish wields not pen, but scalpel, vivisecting Germany’s cult of appearances and culture of denial. His protagonist is Ulrich, whose father was executed for plotting against Hitler.

    Housekeeping

    Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1980). This is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt.

    1982, Janine

    1982, Janine by Alasdair Gray (1984). In a fleabag Scottish motel, divorced and depressed, Jock McLeish once again seeks consolation and strength through massive doses of alcohol and sadomasochistic sexual fantasies (some starring a woman named Janine). Through frank, complex language Gray takes us inside the addled mind of a powerless man seeking to impose some control over his life.

    1984

    1984 by George Orwell (1948). Orwell’s reputation as an antiauthoritarian arises in large part from this novel set in a totalitarian future in which citizens are constantly reminded “Big Brother is watching” as they are spied upon by the Thought Police and one another. In this landscape, Winston Smith is a man in danger simply because his memory works.

    A Bend in the River

    A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul (1979). A fictionalized account of the violence and political tyranny that gripped Zaire after its independence from Belgium, the novel focuses on an African of Indian descent named Salim who opens a small store at a bend in the Congo River.

    A Clockwork Orange

    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962). The linguistic virtuosity of this futuristic tale—told in nadsat, a russified English—lures us into an unwilling complicity in the drug-fueled bouts of ultraviolence committed by Alex and his droogs (comrades).

    A Confederacy of Dunces

    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980). “The funniest novel of the twentieth century,” said Donald Harington of this sprawling picaresque, which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize after Toole’s suicide. Its blustering, bumfuzzled antihero is Ignatius J.

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    New List

    Josephine Humphreys

    1. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
    2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).
    3. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (1961).
    4. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (1984).
    5. Edisto by Padget Powell (1984).
    6. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853).
    7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
    8. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (1925–64).
    9. Light in August by William Faulkner (1932).
    10. Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (1938).




     

    Classic List

    Wally Lamb

    1. The Odyssey by Homer (ninth century b.c.e.?).
    2. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605, 1615).
    3. King Lear by William Shakespeare (1605).
    4. Tom Jones  by Henry Fielding (1749).
    5. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).
    6. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (1900).
    7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).
    8. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939).
    9. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (1925–64).
    10. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967). 


     





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