I just recently finished Jennifer Egan’s ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’, winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize, and was struck by how sensitive Ms. Egan is to the changing needs of today’s reader; this is literature of high quality made especially for the digital age. I’ve entertained the idea of writing a list of some of my favourite books by female authors before, and this book has inspired me to finally do it! So without further ado (and in no particular order):
1. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Random House 2010)
With a storyline spanning from the eighties into the future and multiple (often unrelated) characters profiled at various “fallen from grace” scenarios in their lives, Egan uses music to connect the disparate stories, timelines and flowcharts (yes, PowerPoint makes an appearance here for about 75 pages), to much the same effect that music connects us (read: the readers) to our memories, the memories of others and different points in time. A serious page-turner, this post-post-modernist tale of alienation–but also redemption–is moving from beginning to end. Ironically, the PowerPoint section was the most emotional for me; I suspect this was Egan’s intention.
2. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (John Day 1931)
This story, also a Pulitzer Prize winner, opens on the marriage day of Wang Lung, a humble Chinese farmer. Wang Lung is betrothed to the selfless O-Lan, a slave who has been brought up serving in the kitchens of a rich household, and together they work the fields and experience the pastoral happiness of home, simplicity and intimacy for the first time. Wang Lung and his family endure many trials before they come upon unexpected riches; henceforth this becomes a story of loss of innocence, and of connection–the good earth is no longer enough.
3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (Random House 1957)
Easily the most controversial novel on this list, Rand’s magnum opus is not something you read for its prose, you read it for its ideas. This is a story about a dystopian United States where brilliant industrialists (of science, railroads, metal, lean manufacturing, you name it) as well as “people of the mind” are mysteriously going on strike to protest the parasitical and mooching behaviour of the public demanding their share of the profits. While I can’t say I fully agree with a lot of Rand’s ideas (some of them not at all!) this is a must-read, in my opinion. You’ll never hear words like “capitalism” or “mystics” the same way again.
4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (McClelland and Stewart 2000)
Had to get some Margie onto this list of course–no need for her to start a fallback career in Ottawa metal roofing – I think she’s made it as a writer. I’m daring to say that this is my favourite of her (all of them are so good!) books. The story is told in three interesting ways 1)through the present 2)through the past and 3)through a strange science-fiction tale invented by one of the characters. This is a book written in the ‘Ontarian Gothic’ style and details the lives of two sisters, one of whom is forced to marry the wealthy opponent of their once-wealthy industrialist father, and the young rebel (and author of the sci-fi story) that they both adore. Mysterious and spellbinding, this is a book you won’t want to end and it may be found in this free link directory.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Macmillan Publishers 1936)
It was the only novel she ever penned, but what an influence it’s had. Published in the midst of the Great Depression, this book still sold millions of copies, and within weeks everyone was talking about it. The film version was released only a few years later in 1939 to rave reviews and is still considered a favourite of many cinema buffs. Why? Although it saddens me to read racist tones spoken by some of the characters, the story itself is irresistible–a thwarted love shared between two bad apples, set amongst Civil War in America and interspersed with pages upon pages of some of the most entertaining dialogue you’ll ever read.
This was fun! I love a good read and as you know, I love sharing tips It’s my brand personality.