Reading List: An antidote to bestselleritis by Benjamin Hale

Reading List No Comments »

The Tin Drum
By Günter Grass
(Mariner Books, $15.95)
Kurt Cobain, with characteristic self-loathing, once described “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as basically a Pixies ripoff. If there’s a book to which I would happily acknowledge a personal debt with such groveling humility, it would be this one. “The Tin Drum” is among the strangest and bravest books ever written.

The Adventures of Augie March
By Saul Bellow
(Penguin Classics, $17)
“Henderson the Rain King” is a better book, and I thought of listing it instead, but I chose Augie March because it was the first Bellow book I read, and the one I set out to study, in the way an apprentice chef might try to reverse-engineer a mystery sauce by taking sips and altering ingredients accordingly, trying to discover how the master made it. I lent my copy to a friend recently, who told me I’d apparently circled a certain paragraph and wrote in the margin, “LEARN HOW TO WRITE LIKE THIS.” Read the rest of this entry »