Today’s column will be sort of random. What pulls it together is the first letter of every fiction title I’ll mention, because together those boldfaced letters spell out a message by the time you reach the end of this post. Here goes:
Beloved by Toni Morrison. A novel, about the psychological toll of slavery and more, chosen by The New York Times in 2006 as the best American fiction work of the previous 25 years.
Redburn by Herman Melville. The lesser-known but excellent Melville work, published in 1849, about a sea voyage to Liverpool that predated The Beatles.
Evelina by Fanny Burney. A novel about the adventures (romantic and otherwise) of a young woman that’s one of the most readable books of the 18th century.
Three Junes by Julia Glass. An interestingly structured novel with three separate but interconnected parts set in 1989, 1995, and 1999.
Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener. The famous stories-sewn-together-as-a-novel that feels more modern than a 21st-century reader would expect.
Kindred by Octavia Butler. Part science-fiction, part sobering social commentary as a 20th-century African-American woman is repeatedly pulled back in time to the Antebellum South.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. The best YA novel ever? Could be. About a brainy, spirited orphan girl in 19th-century Canada.
Villette by Charlotte Bronte. Uneven and not as riveting as the author’s Jane Eyre, but still pretty darn good.
Arch of Triumph by Erich Maria Remarque. This memorable novel, set in late-1930s Paris, features a German surgeon refugee who becomes romantically involved.
Native Son by Richard Wright. This riveting novel is a sort of 20th-century version of Crime and Punishment, with the added theme of American racism.
A Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton. The first of the engaging “alphabet mysteries” that star very human private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Sadly, the friendly Grafton (I spoke with her twice on Facebook) died before writing the 26th book.
Underworld by Don DeLillo. A long, sprawling novel that says a lot about the United States in the second half of the 20th century.
Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. I’m in the middle of reading this ultra-suspenseful book — which, though published in 1992, evokes the current Republican “war on women.” Gerald’s bad behavior toward his wife Jessie (and the sexual misconduct of other males in the novel) would make many a vile Republican politician proud.
Hollywood by Charles Bukowski. A hilarious fictionalization of the author’s experience writing the screenplay for the movie Barfly.
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. The great, justly famous historical novel. But while it’s Scott’s best-known work, it’s not his best work.
Silas Marner by George Eliot. Many high-schoolers supposedly dislike this novel, but I think it’s compelling and moving. And quite short for an Eliot book!
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Fascinating satirical novel that can be enjoyed on different levels by kids and adults.
Ulysses by James Joyce. Oops — never read it.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. So masterful that it became one of the few short-story collections to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel. A boy warily co-exists with an unfriendly tiger when they’re cast away at sea.
Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck. The author’s first really successful novel is hilarious and socially astute.
Yet he still was confirmed. 😦
My 2017 literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — which puts a local spin on the repugnant Brett Kavanaugh — is here.