Recommended by Jonathan Franzen
"As in a dream where I’m shouting at the top of my lungs and nobody can hear me, I’ve been advocating for Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children for 20 years, describing it as the greatest family novel ever written and one of the greatest 20th-century novels of any kind, and waiting for even one person to tell me I’m right. Only in Australia, where Stead was born and lived until she was 25, do I regularly encounter people who’ve even heard of it. But here, I’ll say it again: For psychological depth, for indelible characterizations, for savage humor, for muscular prose, for disciplined insanity, The Man Who Loved Children has very few peers in world literature. Please, will someone who is reading this get back to me and say I’m right?"
Recommended by William Gibson
"Basically this book feels, today, like a novel set in the unending nightmare aftermath of a Trump presidency, and in the meantime, here in the real world, we have come to have the dystopian coming-of-age narrative as a hugely popular form. Random Acts is exactly that, but scripted in the mode of Cormac McCarthy, set in New York City, and narrated via the heartbreakingly convincing point of view of a young girl."
Recommended by Adam Johnson
"When it was published two dozen years ago, Buffalo Soldiers flashed neutron-bright into my literary vision. Its savage humor and scabrous story line follow Ray Elwood, a jaded U.S. soldier attempting to navigate the corrupt and carnivorous nature of America’s war machine in peacetime Germany. Heroin deals go bad, tanks are stolen, and a beautiful one-armed woman free-falls from the high dive. As timely as ever, this dark and blistering novel is an important antidote to all those feel-good tales of human triumph."
Recommended by Lauren Groff
"Jean Rhys is most famous for her stunning Wide Sargasso Sea, a blistering retelling of Jane Eyre from the perspective of the Creole “madwoman in the attic,” but her penultimate novel, Good Morning, Midnight, is one of the most troubling, moving, nightmarish, and strange narratives I know, a modernist masterpiece that’s not nearly as celebrated as it should be. In an era when autofiction feels like a new discovery, it’s nice to remember that great prose stylists like Rhys mastered the form a very long time ago."
Posted by Kyla Waltermire, Branch Manager-Collinsville