Archive for July, 2007

Franny & Zooey

Friday, July 13, 2007

116927735.gifby J.D. Salinger

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I am one of those…for whom Salinger’s work dawned as something of a revelation. I expect that further revelations are to come. The Glass saga, as he has sketched it out, potentially contains great fiction…the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one’s obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of as all.—Books of the Century, The New York Times review September, 1961

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

Friday, July 13, 2007

116927734.gifby Ernest Hemingway

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In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from “the good fight,” For Whom the Bell Tolls. The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. In his portrayal of Jordan’s love for the beautiful Maria and his superb account of El Sordo’s last stand, in his brilliant travesty of La Pasionaria and his unwillingness to believe in blind faith, Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise. “If the function of a writer is to reveal reality,” Maxwell Perkins wrote Hemingway after reading the manuscript, “no one ever so completely performed it.” Greater in power, broader in scope, and more intensely emotional than any of the author’s previous works, it stands as one of the best war novels of all time. (barnesandnoble.com, from the publisher)

Absalom, Absalom!

Friday, July 13, 2007

116927731.gifby William Faulkner

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The story of Thomas Sutpen, an enigmatic stranger who came to Jefferson in the early 1830s to wrest his mansion out of the muddy bottoms of the north Mississippi wilderness. He was a man, Faulkner said, “who wanted sons and the sons destroyed him.” (barnesandnoble.com, from the publisher)

Babbitt

Friday, July 13, 2007

11692773.gifby Sinclair Lewis

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Prosperous and self-satisfied, George Babbitt is forced by a personal catastrophe to reexamine his values and mount a short-lived rebellion against public opinion. Considered by many to be Sinclair Lewis’ greatest novel, this social satire, set in a Midwestern city during the economic boom years of the early 1920s, depicts the hollow core of the American vision of success, and its protagonist’s name has become a synonym for middle-class complacency. Unabridged republication of the original (1922) text. (barnesandnoble.com, from the publisher)

Of Mice and Men

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

100020556.gifby John Steinbeck

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Of Mice and Men was John Steinbeck’s first masterpiece. Originally published in 1937, it’s the timeless story of George Milton and Lennie Small, ranch hands who drift from job to job, always one step ahead of the law and a few dollars from the poorhouse. George is small, wiry, sharp-tongued and quick-tempered; slow witted Lennie is his opposite—an immense man, brutishly strong but naturally docile, a giant with the mind of a child. Despite their difference, George and Lennie are bound together by a shared vision: their own small farm, where they’ll raise cows, pigs, chickens, and rabbits, where they’ll be their own bosses and live off the fat of the land.

When they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, the dream at last seems within reach. If they can just save up a little money. . . . But their hopes, like “the best-laid schemes of mice and men,” begin to go awry. The story unfolds with the power and inevitability of a Greek tragedy, as Lennie commits an accidental murder, and George, in a riveting, deeply moving finale, must do what he can to make things turn our right.  (barnesandnoble.com, from the publisher)

White Noise

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

100020555.gifby Don DeLillo

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Winner of the National Book Award in 1985, Don DeLillo’s postmodern masterpiece is about Jack and Babette, a middle America couple with children from previous marriages. After a deadly toxic accident and Babette’s addiction to an experimental drug, Jack is forced to question everything about his life. (barnesandnoble.com, from the publisher)

Atlas Shrugged

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

100020554.gifby Ayn Rand

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The book’s female protagonist, Dagny Taggart, struggles to manage a transcontinental railroad amid the pressures and restrictions of massive bureaucracy. Her antagonistic reaction to a libertarian group seeking an end to government regulation is later echoed and modified in her encounter with a utopian community, Galt’s Gulch, whose members regard self-determination rather than collective responsibility as the highest ideal. — Encyclopedia of Literature

The Road

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

100020553.gifby Cormac McCarthy

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A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-and each other.
The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation. (barnesandnoble.com, from the publisher)

Wings of the Dove

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

100020552.gifby Henry James

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One of three masterpieces from Henry James’s final, “major” phase, The Wings of the Dove dramatizes the conflict between nineteenth-century values and twentieth-century passions. Born to wealth and privilege, Kate Croy’s mother threw it all away to marry a penniless opium addict. After her mother’s death, Kate is offered an opportunity to return to the opulent lifestyle her mother gave up—on one condition. Kate must renounce the man she loves: the witty, good-looking, but poor, Merton Densher. Reluctantly agreeing, Kate finds herself becoming friends with “the world’s richest orphan,” Millie Theale. When Kate learns that Millie is dying, she devises a plan of dizzying possibility for herself and Merton that should solve all their problems, but instead leads them down a path strewn with tragic, unexpected consequences. First published in 1902, this rich and intriguing novel has lost none of its fascination and relevance a century later. (barnesandnoble.com, from the publisher)

Main Street

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

100020551.gifby Sinclair Lewis

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“This is America—a town of a few thousand, in a region of wheat and corn and dairies and little groves.” So Sinclair Lewis—recipient of the Nobel Prize and rejecter of the Pulitzer—prefaces his novel Main Street. Lewis is brutal in his depictions of the self-satisfied inhabitants of small-town America, a place which proves to be merely an assemblage of pretty surfaces, strung together and ultimately empty. (barnesandnoble.com, from the publisher)