Saturday, May 2, 2020

Seven Contemporary Novels

I love the novella form. There was a time when short novels (under 65k words) were highly regarded by most publishing firms. This anthology of seven short novels was originally published in 1969, and I encountered this second edition in 1976. It includes a “Topics for Paper and Discussion” at the conclusion of each novel. Those discussion topics can serve as an example on how to properly critique a novel. The seven short novels included are all masterpieces of contemporary American fiction. 

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Ballad of the Sad Café by Carson McCullers
Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
Noon Wine by Katherine Anne Porter
Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor

Numerous of these, such as The Ballad of the Sad Café and Noon Wine, had a profound and lasting impression on me when I first read them. When I look at these novels now, I think to myself, “This is what writers do.” I am happier for the experience. It is also important to note that several of these books have been banned by one radical, disaffected group or another. Screw them. This is great literature. Those seeking reading recommendations are encouraged to start here.

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