Friday, March 16, 2012

Hiatus

Hiatus is a horrible word in blogging, but at times it becomes a  necessary one. On the "About Me" section of this blog it reads "ASK is a writer, editor, and PhD." Now, I'm actually getting paid for the editing portion of that description. 

I have a very good 40 hour a week office job working on what will remain an anonymous academic journal. At the same time, I'm still working on my own academic research projects. (Still want that tenure-track professor job, after all.) Unfortunately, this means that I have very little time for strictly "leisure" reading and even less time to blog about it.

Among the things I've had on my plate lately:
  • Revising a dissertation chapter for journal publication.
  • Working on a conference presentation on Ishmael Reed's Juice
  • Figuring out how to turn my dissertation into a tighter book project. 
With all this going on, I can't keep to my once a week blog posting, something that regular readers of Narrative Review have probably already realized. With last week's post on The Professor of Desire, I've exhausted my backlog of completed posts. There's nothing more in the hopper. Hopefully, when my schedule becomes less hectic, I can resume my blogging activities.

Still, because I conceived of this blog as a space where I could share with you what I've been reading, let me tell you what I've read so far in 2012. You'll see just how much of my time has been spent working on Reed:

Reed, Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media.
----, Flight to Canada
----, Last Days of Louisiana Red
----, God Made Alaska for the Indians
----, Airing Dirty Laundry
Baldwin,One Day When I was Lost
Reed, Conversations with Ishmael Reed
Burger, Theory of the Avant Garde
Ausubel, Nobody is Here Except All of Us
Reed, Another Day at the Front
----, Shrovetide in Old New Orleans
----, The Plays
Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
----, Blue Nights
Reed, Writin' is Fightin' 
Teres, Renewing the Left
Morrison (ed), Birth of a Nation'hood
Kompare, Rerun Nation
Shytengart, Russian Debutante's Handbook  

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Professor of Desire (1977)

Title: The Professor Desire
Author: Philip Roth
Publisher: Library of America
LCC: PS3568.O855 A6 2006

Two major preoccupations have shaped Philip Roth's career. The first of these concerns the shifting contours of Jewish-American identity. The second of these focuses on the nature of sexual desire. Although both preoccupations can be found throughout his works, generally Roth's works can be broken down into either Jewish-books or sex-books. This may seem reductive, but as a method of classification it works out pretty well. For instance, the Zuckerman books are about Jewish identity and American politics. The major exception here is the latest in the Zuckerman books: Exit, Ghost. That book is about facing mortality, which for a more senior Roth, is the new sex. Sitting on the opposite side of the Jewish identity-sexual desire divide are the books that make up the Kepesh trilogy. Spotlighting Roth's other recurrent protagonist David Kepesh, these books focus on Kepesh's almost all-consuming need to gratify his sexual urges. Roth writes in the last of these books, The Dying Animal, "No matter how much you know, no matter how much you think, no matter how much you plot and you connive and you plan, you're not superior to sex."


The Professor of Desire is the second book of Roth's Kepesh trilogy and marks a stylistic departure from The Breast. The earlier novel is a post-Playboy take on Kafka's Metamorphosis and depicts David Kepesh as he is transformed into an enormous breast. The Professor of Desire disregards the events of the previous book and is more committed to literary realism. Here, too Kafka reigns as a heavy influence, but Roth's allusions are no longer as surreal. Kepesh discusses his problems with a fellow literature professor when in Prague. While the Czech professor sees the bureaucratic indignities faced by Josef K. as an analogous situation to life under the Iron Curtain, Kepesh says he too feels like Kafka because he finds himself in the totalitarian grip of his libido. Later, Professor Kepesh will write a lecture to his introductory literature course that mimics Kafka's "Report to the Academy." In this case, it's not an ape who does the talking, but Kepesh feels just as brutish. Kepesh wants nothing more than to be the nice Jewish boy that his parents raised him to be, but cannot reconcile this desire with his more prurient interests.

I could write more about the plot and theme of this 34-year-old novel. I could go highbrow and talk about its largely Freudian orientation or I could go lowbrow and describe in more detail the more pornographic moments of the novel. However, in the first case, I think I might bore you and in the second case, I would probably embarrass myself. In the last month, this blog has had only 36 visitors, most of whom left soon after coming here. This post may get a few more hits. It does include the words "sex," "libido," and "pornographic" and the Internet was built for men not that much different than David Kepesh. Still, since I'm writing largely for myself at this point, I'll write about what really interests me.

What I always appreciate about Roth is how he fluidly moves from scene to scene. From a holistic perspective,  the three chapters that make up the novel might seem mechanical. Chapter one details Kepesh's youth, his dalliance with two Swedish coeds while on a Fulbright Scholarship in England, and his disastrous marriage to a trivial women. Chapter two traces the angry years after Kepesh's divorce and how a new relationship resuscitates him. In the final chapter, Kepesh is still in love, but his ravenous sexual libido has reawakened and he awaits the relationship to dissolve in spite of himself. However, what really makes the novel mesmerizing is what Roth does within those constraints. The first chapter alone moves seamlessly from the Borschtbelt comedy of Kepesh's youth to Russ Meyer-like scenes from his days as a college Lothario to the unhappy days as a married sexual acetic. Being able to weave in all these disparate scenes, each with its own unique resonance into an organic hole is, I would argue, the principle strength of Roth's novelistic technique. The only art form that I think comes close in its jauntiness, in its ability to mix moods, is the expertly made music mix tape. To be able to work in a host of divergent musical styles and moods takes skill and a careful ear.  While I'm often taken by how well Roth does rage in his writing, I think that particular talent is really a subset of his own ear for tone and his ability to integrate that rage into a larger, more melodious whole. And Roth makes all of this seem effortless.

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)

Author: Oscar Wilde
Title: The Importance of Being Earnest
Publisher: Oxford World Classics
Price: DESK COPY!
LCC: PR5812.C38

The Importance of Being Earnest is not a particularly good play, but it does strive to amuse and sometimes it succeeds. Part of the problem with the play rests with the weakness of its conceit. Jack Worthington has been leading a double life. A foundling, Worthington has been made a gentlemen by a wealthy benefactor. He is also the guardian of Miss Cecily Cardew and he finds this duty sometimes too much to bear. In order to escape, Jack has invented a fictitious brother named Earnest whose affairs Jack must often straighten up in London. Once in London, Jack pretends to be Earnest. Upon this one lie, the whole play and its complications rest. These complications are four in number: 1) Little Cecily has fallen quite in love with the romantic image she has of Earnest, unaware that the man is really her "Uncle" Jack; 2) Jack's fiance in the city, Gwendolyn, is quite in love with him, but a good deal of her attraction rests upon her odd fascination with the name of Earnest; 3) Jack's friend Algernon Moncrieff also likes to impersonate others, and gets the idea to go to Jack's country estate and pretend to be Earnest in order to seduce Cecily and; 4) Cecil falls for Algernon, but like Gwendolyn, has a particular and inexplicable fondness for the name Earnest.

But all of this requires the play's audience or its characters to ask a simple question. How does an orphan child, found in a rail station cloak room, have a brother in the first place? It's a giant plot hole and the entire play sinks into it.

The other problem with the play is that sometimes Wilde strains to be witty and he falls flat. Like the modern sitcom, which must have a joke per page, Wilde's play prefers to keep a bad joke in the script rather than to have a "dull" moment. The worst example of this habit comes early in the play when Algernon is trying to deduce Jack's secret.

ALGERNON: Yes, but that does not account for the fact that your small Aunt Cecily, who lives at Tunbridge Wells, calls you her dear uncle. Come, old boy, you had much better have the thing out at once.
JACK: My dear Algy, you talk exactly as if you were a dentist. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn't a dentist. It produces a false impression.

Now maybe simple anti-dentite humor was all the rage in the Victorian period, but I take the joke here to be a rather lame pun on the word "impression." Call the comedy police because this is just not funny. In fact, better yet, call Monty Python.



Oscar Wilde on Monty Python

This is not to say that all the jokes are bad. Just a few minutes later, Wilde does much better when Lady Bracknell utters the famous line that, "To lose one parent is unfortunate, to lose two is carelessness."

The quality of some of his jokes aside, why do we continue to read Oscar Wilde and see performances of his plays and their Hollywood adaptations? I think the answer resides in the very modern quality of the plays themselves. Despite the fact that they are close to 200 years old, the plays nonetheless continue to reflect certain attitudes that are still with us. Shakespeare wrote about people masquerading as other people. Sheridan, like Wilde, populated his scripts with wits. What seems both new to Wilde and to the modern age, however, is how Wilde focuses less on character--the moral qualities of a person--and more on the personality or the style of a person.

In Wilde's play, wit becomes a form of social combat. To talk faster and with a better turn of phrase means to establish oneself socially. What matters most is not moral character or birth--even Lady Bracknell's displeasure at Jack's rude origins proves transitory--but the ability to communicate with force. For Jack, for Allgernon, as for all of Wilde's characters being able to say the wittier thing is in a sense to achieve dominance not only over your conversation partner, but over the situation itself. This has remained a strand throughout comedy.



His Girl Friday

Take, for instance, the above scene from His Girl Friday. Walter Burns's (Cary Grant) wit and his ability to speak fast is his way of trying to dominate his ex-wife Hildy (Rosalind Russell). However, we can see that Hildy can keep up with Walter, interrupt him if necessary, and this is how we know they are equals. In contrast, Hildy's new fiance Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) is from Albany, talks slow, thinks slower, and just doesn't belong in the picture. His static nature might be wholesome, but it is also an abomination. We know that he needs to be removed from the romantic triangle if we are to get any sort of satisfactory end.



Will & Grace

Will and Grace of course provides a different view of the Wilde-aesthetic. Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Jack (Sean Hayes), and Karen (Megan Mullally) are all perfect wits. While they are all often the butts of each others jokes, they are nonetheless equal wits and thus their friendship can continue. The fun of Will and Grace was not only the Wildean speed of the characters but also the way in which we could see the characters verbally joust with one another, all for the sake of fun and all for the sake of their friendship.

Of course, all of this is incredibly shallow. But Wilde might have found it fitting that his legacy was wider than it was deep.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dreams from My Father (1995)

Author: Barack Obama
Title: Dreams from My Father
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Price: $1
LCC: E185.97.O23 A3 2004

I had wanted to write about the influence of Bladwin's writing on Barack Obama and then I stumbled upon an essay by Colm Tobin and thought, "Why bother? It's been done better before." Click here to read Tobin's essay "James Baldwin & Barack Obama" which appeared in The New York Review of Books.

In closing let me say that the idea that President Obama is unknowable seems to me totally false. This book is a well-written, open account of his maturation. It's not as good as Baldwin's writing, but so few autobiographies are. It's light years ahead of most political biographies.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Clotel (1853)

Author: William Wells Brown
Title: Clotel, or the President's Daughter
Publisher: Bedford Critical Edition
Price: DESK COPY!
LCC:S1139.B9 C53 2000

Clotel or, the President's Daughter is not a good novel. However, artistry does not seem to have been a main concern of its author, William Wells Brown.

Brown was  a contemporary of Frederick Douglass and just as fervent an abolitionist. Born into slavery in 1814, Brown was the son of an African American mother and a wealthy Kentucky planter. On New Year's Day 1834, Brown managed to escape to the North by taking a river boat to the free state of Ohio. Brown would soon find himself married, living in New York, and advocating the abolitionist cause. As part of his abolitionist efforts, Wells published his own autobiography which elaborated on his experiences as a slave and documented his path to freedom. Although not as popular as Douglass's biography,  Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself brought the author considerable notoriety. It also made him a prime target for the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Unwilling to be forced back into slavery, Brown fled the United States and began speaking on behalf of American abolitionists in England. It was in England that Brown began working on Clotel, the first novel to be published by an African-American author.

Clotel is a decidedly odd text in its construction. The premise of the novel is simple enough. Clotel  is the fictitious daughter of President Thomas Jefferson and a thinly fictionalized version of his slave, Sally Hemings. The novel's epigraph comes from The Declaration of Independence and states that "all men are created equal" and are therefore entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In beginning in this way, Brown hopes to create tension that the man who was the father of American liberty was also the father of slaves.



Clearly, the aims of Clotel are political ones. Much like Harriet Beacher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the purpose of the novel is to persuade readers that abolitionism is a just cause. In a short essay entitled "Everybody's Protest Novel," James Baldwin argued that Stowe and other protest novelists betrayed the causes they hoped to support through the false emotion of sentimentality. For Baldwin, sentimentality denied the full range of humanity to the characters of protest fiction. Characters like Uncle Tom lacked the complexity native to humanity and were instead used as demographic representatives, whom white readers could determine their own moral rightness vis-a-vis their affective response to the character. I'm not wholly unsympathetic to Baldwin's argument, and it remains a compelling one for liberals to consider, but this is not the problem that mars Clotel as a work of fiction.

Part of the problem is the deliberate slackness to the novel's plotting. No sooner are we introduced to Clotel and learn of her pedigree than Brown decides to divide our attention. Clotel, her mother, and her sister are all sold in the novel's early pages. Rather than staying with Clotel, however, Brown chooses to follow all three characters after they are separated. The break up of their family does not serve to heighten the intensity of the novel, but rather serves to dilute it. Different chapters focus on different members of Clotel's family and many characters seem frozen in their own subplots.

However, the novel's major and unforgivable flaw is that despite the clarity of the novel's premise, Brown seems to have an almost inexplicable aversion to pointing the reader's attention to Clotel. She is a remarkably minor figure in a novel that bears her name. A protest novel like Uncle Tom's Cabin works to argue against slavery by illustrating the injustice of that "peculiar institution" through the travails of Uncle Tom, Topsy, and the other characters. Robert Levine, the editor of the Bradford Critical Edition, refers to Brown as a "cultural editor" in his introduction. As a "cultural editor," Brown synthesized a number of different abolitionist stories that were in circulation and integrated them into the narrative of the text. We can think of Brown as a D.J. or a rap producer, sampling and repurposing the abolitionist hits of others to produce a new work. Of course, all novelists do this to some degree but Brown relies on it so greatly as a narrative strategy that it is the signature style of the work. The problem arises is that Brown's remixing frequently distracts readers from Clotel and her family. Rather than take real events and distribute those reported misfortunes to one of the novel's fictitious characters, Brown tends to introduce these incidents by introducing new characters. The result is that Clotel and her family frequently occupy the novel's background when they should be in the foreground.

Clotel's importance has less to do with the craft of fiction as it does with the study of its history. Scholars and students will find much of value in the Bedford Cultural Edition of the novel. Levine's introduction is an indispensable guide to Brown's biography and the publication history of the novel. While I sometimes found the footnotes to be excessive, other readers may feel otherwise. After all, each reader will a different level of cultural and historic literacy to the text and for teaching purposes its best to air on the side of caution. However, the real strength of the edition is the pedagogic aides to be found in the text. Levine has supplied students and instructors with a vast array of contextualizing, historical documents that are bound to be of service. I could see these aides being of particular use for student research projects as it makes a number of important historic documents easily available to students. In other words, I don't recommend reading Clotel, but if you must I would suggest you pick up the Bedford Critical Edition.

Next week: Richard Wright's Lawd Today.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Daisy Miller (1878)

Author: Henry James
Title: Daisy Miller
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Price: $1
LCC: PS2116 .D3 1900 

Is Daisy Miller a slut or does she just act like one? A crude way to put it, I know. This is the question that Henry James's protagonist Winterbourne cannot seem to answer. Nancy Bentley has written that so much of James's novels consist of "girl watching." I'm sure the category works for James's other works, but it seems to me to be a most apt description of his novella Daisy Miller. For most of the text concerns Winterbourne watching Miss Miller, thinking about her actions, and questioning her motives. Is Daisy a good girl or a bad girl? Winterbourne just has to know.

Traditionally, critics have seen the novel in terms of manners. Winterbourne has them; Daisy does not. Winterbourne is an American expatriate who has long traveled throughout Europe under the pretense of pursuing his education. Although he hasn't gained much formal education, his European experience has transformed him into a decadent figure, familiar with all the intricacies and pleasures that European society has had to offer him. He is a cosmopolitan by training and thus something of a professional appreciator. As such, when Winterbourne first meets the Millers he is immediately taken with them and views them, somewhat condescendingly, as the picture of American innocence. The Millers seem to him the portrait of American innocence. Daisy's little brother, Randolph, is not so dissimilar to his fictional contemporary Tom Sawyer in that they are both scamps. Mrs. Miller, Daisy's mother, is a naive, matronly woman concerned about decorum but blind to social convention. And then there is Daisy, who Winterbourne views as a harmless American flirt.

In her flirtatiousness Daisy manages to offend the social customs of the American expatriate community. Much to Winterbourne's frustration, Daisy seems unaware of what she looks like to her fellow Americans. Thus, she hasn't a care when she goes off in the company of the strange Italian named Giovanelli. Winterbourne would like to protect Daisy and her reputation, but he is too passive to either take a strand against society or to express a sincere interest in her. Winterbourne is not a man who lives either by his words or by his hands; he is a man that lives by his eyes. Thus he's more content to watch Daisy and Giovanelli parade around the Coliseum at night, but he won't stop her, or try and protect her from the night-borne illness that will eventually take her life.

But is Daisy so innocent? Winterbourne insists on Daisy's innocence and her ignorance, but because James's narration is so bound to Winterbourne's consciousness, I don't see any reason to trust him. Indeed, we do see Daisy quite unhappy when one American matron gives her the cold shoulder. But this is just a gesture, one of many that Daisy makes. What did Daisy Miller know? Maybe Daisy did know how she looked and didn't care. Maybe Daisy did not know how she looked and the classic reading concerning manners holds up. I do know Daisy Miller knew how to have a good time, but I don't know what she knew beyond that. And fun is one thing worth having.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blankets (2003)

Author: Craig Thompson
Title: Blankets
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Price: Free (Public Library)
LCC: PN6727.T48 B58 2003

Forgive me, Internet for I have sinned. It's been one week since my last post. I am guilty of the sin of prejudice. I have judged a book unfairly by its cover and by its press. The sin of iniquity is upon me.

When Craig Thompson's Blankets came out, I was reluctant to read it. Upon its release in 2003, Blankets seemed to gain instant buzz for Thompson's frank discussion of his Evangelical Christian upbringing and his struggle to maintain his faith in the face of teenage sexual desire. Internet, you have to understand; by 2003, I was no longer the DC Comics fanboy I once was. I wanted to read graphic novels that contained sophisticated "adult-storytelling." Really, I did. I became a devoted fan of Love and Rockets and reveled in the now forgotten, Unstable Molecules. However, there was something about Blankets that initially hit me the wrong way, that made me resistant to giving it a shot. Maybe it was the title. Maybe I thought Blankets sounded too much like "wet blankets," as in no fun. Maybe, it was the size and the expense of the thing. Blankets is 582 pages and has a $30 cover price, which is a lot to throw down on a story by an author whom you've never read before. Regardless, Internet, the reason for my transgression matters not.

I know the real nail in the coffin came when I read some Internet review (it was so long ago, that I cannot find the link) that described the book as "emo." And suddenly, it became clear to me that I was never going to pick up this book. Emo. . . Evangelical. . . these were two American subcultures that I just could not get into. The first was whiny and wore eyeliner and the second thought I was going to hell. So, although friends and most critics raved about Blankets, I decided to take a big pass.

However, I was driving in the car the other day and I was listening to NPR's On The Point. (Hey, what do you want from me? I'm a member of the PMC; I can't help it). Tom Ashbrook was interviewing Craig Thompson who was promoting his recent graphic novel Habibi. Much to my surprise, Thompson proved that he was not a total hipster douche. In fact, he seemed like. . . dum dum dum. . . a very nice, open-minded, nonjudgmental guy.

Internet, I have seen the light.

I picked up Blankets from the local library that week. Is it nothing more than emo, narcissistic navel gazing? Well, you can describe it that way if you want. But that is not the way, I would choose to describe it. Yes, Blankets is introspective, but it is not ponderous. Yes, Blankets is lyrical, but it is not pointless. Blankets provides an honest account of trying to grow up and finding that your own ideas may be very different than those that you were brought up with. That's something that most readers can relate to, but most of us cannot express it half as well as Thompson does. If there is any real faults to the book they are that Thompson makes little effort to imagine how other characters might feel and, as Girl Detective points out, there's not a lot of humor to be found.

So, Internet, what do you say? Am I absolved? What if I promise to read this year's Harvey Award Winner for Best Original Novel? Will we be cool then?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

New Year's Resolution: Library Edition

Dear Five People on the Internet who occasionally glance at this site: 

Last year I managed to read 52 books that had almost nothing to do with my dissertation research. Much of that progress had to do with being only sketchily employed and picking some thin volumes at the end of the year. My library still remains overstuffed from books that I neglected when I was in graduate school and I want to continue to work my way through them. I'm going to make a list here of every book that I own that I has gone mostly unread.

NOW HERE'S THE CATCH!

Are you ready?

YOU GET TO PICK WHAT I READ NEXT.

Leave a comment and let me know what you want me to read from the list.  List up to three titles and I'll read them. I'll read those books that get the most votes first.  You control my unrequired syllabus.

So here we go:

Philosophy and Psychology:
1. William James, Essays in Pragmatism
2. Theodore Adorno, Aesthetic Theory
3. Sigmund Freud, An Outline of Psycho-Analysis
4. Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death

Religion
5. James Frazer, Golden Bough
6. Martin Buber, I and Though
7. Jack Miles, God

Journalism
8. Susan Orlean, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup
9. Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future
10. John Hersey, Hiroshima
11. Evan Wright, Generation Kill
12. Michael Herr, Dispatches
13. Tom Wolfe, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (I've read parts, but not most).

Memoir and Biography
14. Arthur Schlesinger, A Life in the Twentieth-Century
15. -----, Journals 1952-2000
16. Maxine Hong Kingston, China Men

American History
17. Robert Penn Warren, Who Speaks for the Negro
18. Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, Poor Richard's Almanac, and Letters
19. U. S. Grant, Personal Memoirs
20. Rick Perlstein, Nixonland
21. Lola Vollen, et al., Voices from the Storm

Social Sciences & Political Theory
22. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
23. John Kenneth Galbraith, American Capitalism
24. -----, The New Industrial State
25. Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man
26. Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology
27. Priscilla Long, The New Left
28. Barbara Ehrenreich, Fear of Falling
29. Edmund Wilson, To Finland Station 
30. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (only read excerpts)
31. Hannah Arendt, On Revolution 

Media Studies
32. Newton Minow and Craig L. LaMay, Abandoned in the Wasteland
33. Robert McChesney, Rich Media, Poor Democracy
34. David Halberstam, The Powers That Be

Russian Literature
35. Elif Batuman, The Possessed
36. Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Illych
37. ------,  Anna Karenina 
38. -----, War and Peace

Yiddish Literature
40. Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles
41. I. B. Singer, Collected Stories vols. I-III
42. -----, Scum  

Literary Theory and Criticism
43. Roland Barthes, Pleasure of the Text
44. Rene Wellek and Austin Warren, Theory of Literature
45. Eric Auerbach, Mimesis
46. Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious
47. Henry James, Literary Criticism vols. I & II
48. Eric Bentley, Theory of the Modern Stage
49. Cleanth Brooks and Robert B. Heilman, Understanding Drama
50. Antonin Artaud, The Theater and its Double
51. Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, Understanding Fiction
52. Sigmund Freud, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious
53. Bruce Jay Friedman, Black Humor  
54. Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction   
55. Denise Gigante, Taste: A Literary History
56. Constance Rourke, American Humor

British, Irish & South African Literature
57. E. M. Forster, Howard's End
58. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover
59. -----, Women In Love
60. Roddy Doyle, Star Called Henry  
61. J. M. Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year
62. Nadine Gordimer, Burger's Daughter

19th-century American Literature
63. Mark Twain, Mississippi Writings
64. -----, Autobiography of Mark Twain vol. I
65. Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
66. Harold Frederic, The Damnation of Theron Ware
67. William Dean Howells, A Modern Instance
68. Henry James, Novels 1871-1880
69. Herman Melville, The Confidence-Man 
70. Frank Norris, The Octopus

Early 20th-Century American Literature
71. Saul Bellow, Humboldt's Gift
72. -----, More Die of Hearbreak
73. John Dos Passos, U. S. A. 
74. T. S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party
75. William Faulkner, Novels 1942-1954
76. -----, The Portable Faulkner\
77. -----, Absalom, Absalom!
78. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night    
79. Lillian Hellman, Six Plays
80. -----, Scoundrel Time
81. Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls 
82. William Inge, Four Plays
83. Mary McCarthy, The Group
84. Norman Mailer, The Deer Park
85. -----, The Executioner's Song
86. -----, The Naked and the Dead
87. Katherine Ann Porter, The Collected Stories
88. Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 
89. Gore Vidal, Palimpsest
90. Edith  Wharton, Summer

Late 20th-Century American Literature & Beyond
91. Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburg
92. -----, Wonder Boys
93. Don DeLillo, Great Jones Street
94. -----, Libra
95. -----, Undeworld
96. Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
97. E. L. Doctorow, Billy Bathgate
98. -----, City of God
99. -----, The March
100. Stanley Elkin, The Magic Kingdom
101. Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero
102. Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City
103. Bernard Malamud, Dubin's Lives
104. -----, Pictures of Fidelman
105. -----, Rembrandt's Hat  
106. Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood
107. Thomas Pynchon, Mason and Dixon 
108. Philip Roth, Letting Go
109. -----, The Great American Novel
110. Susan Sontag, Death Kit
111. John Updike, Bech: A Book
112. -----, Bech at Bay
113. -----, Rabbit Redux
114. -----, Rabbit is Rich
115. -----, Rabbit at Rest 
116. Glen David Gold, Carter Beats the Devil
117. Alice Seybold, Lovely Bones
118. Gary Shteyngart, The Russian Debutante's Handbook
  
German Literature
119. Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage and Her Children

So, know any good books that I should read?