hush-syrup asked: What are ten of your favorite novels? What are ten works you think everybody (intelligent) should read? Who are ten of your favorite underrated authors?
This is a tough one. No matter what I put down, I’ll think of more later. Putting them in proper categories will take time – here’s the first draft of important works.
Some of my favorites:
Moby Dick – Melville – for me, this novel is the foundation of all modern literature, so I reread it constantly. When I can’t sleep, I pick a random chapter and listen to the audiobook.
Lolita – Nabokov – what happens when Moby Dick is rewritten perversely
Pale Fire – Nabokov – the best novel yet written, at least until my new novel is finished
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Hardy – I named my daughter Tess. Honestly, any Hardy would do equally well.
Sons & Lovers -Lawrence – because I can’t really choose between this and Women in Love and the Rainbow
The Possessed – Dostoevsky – the most interesting of the Dostoevskys, with Karamazova and Crime and Punishment
Dangerous Liasons – De Laclos – the best exploration of the possibilities of the epistolary novel
Recherche – Proust – One of the finest novels ever written – magnificent in every way
Naked Lunch – Burroughs – changed my concept of fiction writing more than any author before
London Fields – Martin Amis – also named my daughter after Nicola Six. The best allegory for writing since Lolita. The Information is just as good.
Babel Tower – incredible work by Byatt
Lost Illusions – Balzac
Nana, The Masterpiece – Zola
Love in the Time of Cholera – the one novel by Garcia Marquez that I really care for.
Middlemarch – Eliot
Bleak House – Dickens
Infinite Jest – Wallace
Gravity’s Rainbow – Pynchon
The Recognitions – Gaddis
Light in August – Faulkner – Any of Faulkner’s novels are equally magnificent
This Side of Paradise – Fitzgerald
The Sun Also Rises – Hemingway
Don Quixote – A must read for anyone, anywhere, anytime
The Subterraneans – I’m not overly fond of Jack Kerouac, but this novel is shoulders above anything else he wrote
The Alexandria Quartet – Durrell – anything by Durrell
Sexus – Miller – anything by Henry Miller
Doctor Faustus – Thomas Mann
Group Portrait with Lady – Boll
Man without Qualities – Musil
Night and Day – Woolf – anything at all by Virginia Woolf. She has no equal.
Wuthering Heights – Bronte – not for the story so much as for the incredible dreary poetry
Unbearable Lightness of Being – Kundera or anything else by him
Lesser known great works:
Tieta – Jorge Amado
Fortunata & Jacinta – Galdos
The Doll – Boleslaw Prus
City of Night – Rechy
Book of Memories, Parallel Stories – Nadas
The Sleepwalkers – Broch
New Grub Street – George Gissing
Ask the Dust – John Fante
Things intelligent readers really should read include Ulysses by Joyce, Shakespeare, Milton, Homer, Thousand Nights and One Night, Decameron, the romantic poets (Keats, Shelley, Byron, Coleridge) and Robert Browning’s The Ring and the Book.