Some books in the PoMoProj

The 61 Postmodern Reading Project

A handful of my friends will attempt to read the books included in the 61 essential postmodern reads compiled by LA Times. I jumped in despite my reading and blogging rut because it looks fun. Besides, these are exquisite books.

This reading project is spearheaded by Aldrin. He dragged three of us into this: Bennard, Mae, and I. Did I miss anyone? Is there anyone out there who’s interested? I don’t know how one is inducted to this project; perhaps one must have a keen liking for postmodern books. So what then is postmodernism?

It’s very hard to put down the set of criteria that makes a book postmodern but I find the play with form and language as key indicators. There’s also the plot, but there are so many postmodern stuff going on out there that I find it hard to distinguish what’s postmodern and what’s not. I must say that this discerning is also part of the fun.

This po-mo project is still sketchy. I suggested setting up a separate group blog but we have a couple of issues with it. We still haven’t agreed where to put it up. I want it on WordPress. I suppose Bennard does, too. Aldrin wants it on Tumblr. Mae, well, she doesn’t blog. Or maybe she blogs secretly. But if the group blog wouldn’t push through, well, I’ll just add another category here. And another list on my already list-infested blog.

There’s also the availability of books. I’m pretty sure that these are hard to find. I heard at least half of the titles for the first time on this list. This is going to be a real challenge. I think it’s even more challenging than Time Magazine’s 100 novels. But yes, this should be fun.

We have no timeline, we have no rules. All we have is a list. So here it is.

Read:

  • 2666 by Roberto Bolano (4-stars)
  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (4-stars)
  • Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem (5-stars)
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (4-stars)

Owned and unread and to read (maybe soon):

  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  • G by John Berger
  • House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
  • The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco
  • JR by William Gaddis
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
  • Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • The Counterlife by Philip Roth
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Stern

Hunting (these books are on my own reading lists):

  • Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
  • At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

To borrow (I figured my sanity would remain intact if I just settle on borrowing these):

  • In Memorium to Identity by Kathy Acker
  • The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim
  • New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
  • The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker
  • The Atrocity Exhibition by J. G. Ballard
  • Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth
  • 60 Stories by Donald Barthelme
  • The Loser by Thomas Bernhard
  • Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
  • Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton
  • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
  • Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
  • The Universal Baseball Association, Henry J. Waugh, Proprietor by Robert Coover
  • Log of the S.S. Mrs. Unguentine by Stanley Crawford
  • Great Jones Street by Don Delillo
  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
  • City of God by E.L. Doctorow
  • Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D. H. Lawrence by Geoff Dyer
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  • Tours of the Black Clock by Steve Erickson
  • I Am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett
  • Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Tunnel by William Gass
  • The Lime Twig by John Hawkes
  • The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon
  • Dispatches by Michael Herr
  • Skin by Shelley Jackson
  • Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • Notable American Women by Ben Marcus
  • Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson
  • Remainder by Tom McCarthy
  • Women and Men by Joseph McElroy
  • Edwin Mullhouse by Steven Millhauser
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  • American Splendor by Harvey Pekar
  • The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • Mulligan Stew by Gilbert Sorrentino
  • Trance by Christopher Sorrentino
  • Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman
  • PopCo by Scarlett Thomas
  • John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead

By the way, why isn’t Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell included? Perhaps we should also add our favorite postmodern reads as extensions. What do you think?