Reading List: An antidote to bestselleritis by Benjamin Hale

Reading List No Comments »

1
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.

2
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 »