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The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro (1998, H) – In this collection by a contemporary short story master, ordinary lives are transformed into something that matters to the universe. The stories have underlying themes of secrets and revelation. Of love and, of course, love. The vast oeuvre of Munro makes it hard to select a starting point. This is a good start.
The Master by Colm Tóibín (2004, H) – A beautiful homage to The Master, Henry James. It begins with his unsuccessful beginnings until he secluded himself to write his masterpieces. There’s a thrill in the way it’s written while altogether keeping lyricism intact. It’s something that should be read to further understand the inner workings of writing with no less than a literary master as the subject.
A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr (1980, H) – This novel is one of the three novels recommended to me during our novel writing workshop. It tells Tom Birkin’s visit to a country who is given the task of restoring a mural in a village church. The writing evokes feelings of nostalgia and melancholy. One could feel its timelessness as Tom sifts through his memories of his stay in the country.
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem (1999, M) – Easily one of the most fun books out there. Lionel Essrog works for a detective agency. His boss, Frank, is murdered. Lionel and the rest of the boys work to solve this mystery that is filled with wit humor thanks to the witty ticcisms, ticcy wittisms of our protagonist, who, yes, suffers from Tourette’s.
Mother’s Milk by Edward St. Aubyn (2005, H) – I started the Patrick Melrose novels with this, and I don’t think it should deter me from getting my hands into the whole series. Based on the author’s life, this third installment is a scathing look at upper class English families not without the trenchant observations on domestic dysfunction and rich people’s decadence.
The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford (1947, H) – Molly is a snarky, precocious kid who is sent to her uncle’s ranch with her older brother, Ralph. Their closeness is stretched to the breaking point as Molly clings to her childhood and Ralph welcomes adulthood. One may think that this is a novel about children, but there is more psychological turmoil in it than fanciful childhoods.
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (1961, L) – Binx Bolling falls into despair as an existential crisis falls upon him. He daydreams a lot and finds it hard to forge relationships with people. He thinks books and movies are more meaningful than people themselves. This would seem unfair but if one is constantly struggling in daily routines, Binx may have a point after all.
My Name Is Red (Benim Adım Kırmız) by Orhan Pamuk (1998, L) – During the Ottoman Empire, a number of miniaturists are caught in a murder mystery. Elegant Effendi speaks from the afterlife and his chapters are alternated by the points of view of the other characters, all of them suspects to his murder. But this is less a witch hunt than a thought-provoking meditation on art.
Mysteries (Mysterier) by Knut Hamsun (1892, H) – A man arrives in a a Norwegian town. He causes a stir with his strange behavior. The inhibited townspeople are scandalized by his eccentricities. And just as he came so suddenly, he disappears. Just like that. Hunger is still my favorite Hamsun novel but I’m putting this on my list instead because yes, it’s just as powerful as it is.
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (1987, M) – This is a collection of three detective fiction that have been published into one. Although each of the novellas can stand alone, there is an intertextual relationship among them. Its meta brings a double delight (Paul Auster is a character in the first part) as the reader plunges into the mysteries of its mysteries.
Stay tuned for Part 6.
Format: [Title] ([Original Title]) by [Author] ([Publication Year, LSS Meter Level])
This is part of the Literary Snobbery Series (LSS).