Visit the The LSS Book List page for more information about this post.
Six Characters in Search of an Author (Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore) by Luigi Pirandello (1921, M) – A theater company are in the middle of a play rehearsal when six people disrupt them. According to them, they are characters who have unfinished stories. Hence, they are demanding for their stories to be told. The director of the company agrees, and what follows is absurdity that blurs reality from fiction.
Snow Country (Yukiguni) by Yasunari Kawabata (1935, M) – A man from Tokyo and a geisha from a hot spring town have a love affair. The geisha develops her artistry to be as refined as the city geishas. The man from Tokyo falls for another woman. The scenes in this book are short but there is something overarching above them in a grand manner, as if the scenes were trying to portray something bigger than their own.
Steps by Jerzy Kosiński (1968, H) – I’m not even sure if this is a novel or a collection of loosely (un)related short stories. Just look at that eye on the cover. Doesn’t it elicit violent feelings? Yes, this cover speaks for some of the stories’ themes. There are also stories that depict brutal and sexually explicit scenes. The stories are really creepy, and this is only a short book.
Stoner by John Williams (1965, M) – William Stoner is a farm boy who decides not be a farm boy when he encounters Shakespeare in one of his college classes. He majors in literature and from there, we watch his life go by: a not so illustrious career, a mediocre marriage at best, and a controversial love affair. This novel, rescued from obscurity with its recent republication, is a quiet yet powerful observation on what it means to be human.
The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever (1978, H) – The cracks along the spine of my copy should be evidence enough of the author’s mastery of the short story. This collection has the best of best, stories that have decorated the brilliant career of Cheever. If one likes stories set in New York with dichotomized themes, mostly on nostalgia and depravity, read this.
The Summer Book (Sommarboken) by Tove Jansson (1972, H) – These are beautiful vignettes about a little girl’s summer stay at an island with her grandmother. They have a slightly anecdotal feel to them, which are mostly about life and death, the beauty of nature, and the powerful bond between a headstrong granddaughter and an artistic grandmother.
Tenth of December by George Saunders (2013, M) – The inaugural winner of the Folio Prize delivered. This is a brilliant collection of quirky short stories that can make you laugh at one moment and break your heart the next time. Sci-fi-ish stories are also present in this book, and though it seems that these are jarring, they, on the contrary, make the collection stronger.
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz (2012, L) – These short stories bring us back to Yunior, Oscar Wao’s friend in the author’s previous book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The dominant theme in the stories are infidelity, particularly that of men’s, and the attempts to overcome this weakness in order to build stonger relationships.
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (1991, L) – This novel, set in the flat farms of Iowa, is a retelling of William Shakespeare’s King Lear. For those who have not seen or read the play like me, King Lear is about a man who is bequeathing his land among his three daughters. But in this novel, there obsidian shards that will shatter by the near end.
Tinkers by Paul Harding (2009, M) – A delightful book about time, nature, and memory. George, already at the last few days of his life, calls his father to memory, a man who sells household items drawn from a cart and who suffers from epilepsy. The narrative switches to and from the son and father. This creates reminiscences evocative of childhood memories that fiercely cling to the longing heart.
Stay tuned for Part 9.
Format: [Title] ([Original Title]) by [Author] ([Publication Year, LSS Meter Level])
This is part of the Literary Snobbery Series (LSS).