Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reading List...

Esquire.com (the magazine's website) has a feature called, The 75 Books Every Man Should Read, "an unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published"—it's a sideshow of the covers of these 75 books. I'm not going to list them all here (mostly because I'm lazy), but here are a few I've never heard of, or I've heard of and concur are great books (alphabetical by author):

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison
Plainsong by Kent Haruf (see February 9th)
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (see January 25th)
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (see April 29th)
A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (see February 11th)
Sophie's Choice by William Styron
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

A Sport and a Pastime:

A beautiful, lyrical tale of an ill-fated love affair set against the backdrop of small French towns, this stunning novel is observed through the eyes and imagination of a narrator who, in the story of Dean and Anne-Marie s relationship, captures some essential aspect of what it means to be truly alive.

Legends of the Fall:

The publication of this magnificent trilogy of short novels — Legends Of The Fall, Revenge and The Man Who Gave Up His Name — confirmed Jim Harrison's reputation as one of the finest American writers of his generation. These absorbing novellas explore the theme of revenge and the actions to which people resort when their lives or goals are threatened, adding up to an extraordinary vision of the twentieth-century man.


Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic
Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Don't let the ease of reading fool you—Vonnegut's isn't a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters..."
Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch-22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority.

Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy—and humor.