As summer comes closer and closer, some of us begin to dread the thought of work throughout it. Personally, I’ll be making food for endless Sandcastle customers while equally being under a hot sun and over a hot grill. I know you’re all saying, “That sounds awesome!” It’s actually not that bad and I’m looking forward to it, but what I’m looking forward to more is tackling my ever-growing stack of books to read. Last summer I read ten books, everything from Go Ask Alice(Anonymous) and The Road(McCarthy) to In Cold Blood(Capote) and To Kill a Mocking Bird(Lee). Since then, I’ve received enough suggestions for forty summers. The challenge will be deciding which ones transform from a suggestion to a physical book. Here are some of my choices:
Last Exit to Brooklyn (Hubert Selby Jr.): This novel was published in 1964 and gained nearly immediate fame after publication for its gritty, unrelenting description of lower-class Brooklyn, which was all in all not too distant from the actual city of Brooklyn in the 50s. There are several story lines that the novel follows: Georgette (a transvestite hooker addicted to amphetamine), Tralala (a young prostitute and thief that lives by her own rules), and Harry (a machinist in a factory who becomes a union official and strikes). I began this book over winter break and wasn’t able to finish it upon arrival back at school. I can’t wait to get back into its brutal story.
White Noise (Don Delillo): This breakout work for Delillo tells the story of a college professor named Jack Gladney who specializes in Hitler studies. In the area of his college, an “airborne toxic event” clouds the sky and anxiety about death and toxins build throughout. As an example of postmodernism, the novel is essentially about the overarching theme of the American media and the “toxins” it spills into our lives.
Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters… (J.D. Salinger): Being an avid Salinger fan, and upon the author’s recent death, I thought it was appropriate to read the only book by him that I haven’t read. Catcher in the Rye, in earlier work of his, has stood as an American classic since its 50s publication and tells the tale of controversial protagonist Holden Caulfield. With it easily being the best coming-of-age tale that I know of, I ran to Salinger’s other work and “consumed” Nine Stories and Franny and Zooey last summer. Both of those books being damn near as equally amazing as Catcher in the Rye, I’ll now read Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters, a look at the Glass family through Army-returnee and brother, Buddy Glass. Through weddings, deaths, and military conflict, there’s no way Salinger will let me down with his last work before he quit publishing.
100 Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez): Apparently the author’s masterpeice and most talked about work, this book centers around the town of Macondo and the history of the Buendia family. Steeped in magical realism, Solitude’s thems are mainly love, death, and war, as there are numerous members of the Buendia family who engage in relationships of love and blood amidst the civil wars. The idea of a novel covering one hundred years, in itself, is amazing and I’m excited to read it.
The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien): Technically a collection of short stories that center around the Vietnam War, this book supplies the elements of memoir, novel, and history. Most of the stories revolve around a character named Tim, who defies the assumptions of his conrads and battles with the war in reality and in his mind. Truly a collection more about personal growth than the war itself, The Thinsg They Carried sounds like a quick and unforgettable read.
Hell House (Richard Matheson): From one of the few masters of horror writing, Hell House is widely regarded as containing the scariest haunted house depicted in American literature. Since I’ve always been a semi-closetted horror fan and am on the bridge about writing horror stories of my own, I figure I should take a look at the best. It centers around Belasco house, where unimaginable atrocities have been committed. In the wake of two failed expeditions into the house, four strangers approach the mansion each with different personal reasons for their curiosity, ready to mount a new expedition. Matheson, author of Stir of Echoes and I am Legend, is sure to never disappoint.
As I’m sure there will be many more books that I’ll be tackling, I picked the few that I’m especially excited for. If you’re an avid reader like me, then I hope you enjoy these suggestions, and above all, have an amazing summer!