Monday, August 09, 2010

Time to Vote: Back to the Classics

Once again it is time to choose a new book to read. With summer winding down and thoughts of returning to school not far off, I thought a good, solid classic might be the perfect reading choice for cooler weather. Please cast your vote, and the winner will be announced Sunday July 15. We'll reconvene here and at the forum on October 31 for discussion.

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
"Winesburg, Ohio is Sherwood Anderson's masterpiece, a cycle of short stories concerning life in a small town at the end of the nineteenth century. At the center is George Willard, a young reporter who becomes the confidant of the town's solitary figures. Anderson's stories influenced countless American writers including Hemingway, Faulkner, Updike, Oates and Carver. "

The Small Room by May Sarton
"Anxiously embarking on her first teaching job, Lucy Winter arrives at a New England women's college and shortly finds herself in the thick of a crisis: she had discovered a dishonest act committed by a brilliant student who is a protégée of a powerful faculty member. How the central characters—students and teachers—react to the crisis and what effect the scandal has on their personal and professional lives are the central motifs of May Sarton's sensitive, probing novel."

The Awkward Age by Henry James
"The Awkward Age, written at a time when female emancipation and the double standard were subjects of fierce debate, is the most remarkable example of James's dramatic method. The novel traces the experiences of 18-year-old Nanda Brookenham, exposed to corruption in the salon of her youthful, 'modern' mother, who, in maintaining a circle where talk is shockingly sophisticated, 'must sacrifice either her daughter or...her intellectual habits'. Does Nanda reach maturity and self-knowledge in the lively company of handsome, genial Vanderbank, whom she loves, and of ugly, intelligent, parvenu Mitchy, who loves her? Or is she a symbol of sterile idealism, as she clings to old Mr Longdon, with his memories of Nanda's grandmother, and of an aristocracy once untouched by money-troubles and dubious French novels?"

The Vagabond by Colette
"Thirty-three years-old and recently divorced, Renée Néré has begun a new life on her own, supporting herself as a music-hall artist. Maxime, a rich and idle bachelor, intrudes on her independent existence and offers his love and the comforts of marriage. A provincial tour puts distance between them and enables Renée, in a moving series of leters and meditations, to resolve alone the struggle between her need to be loved and her need to have a life and work of her own."

Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos
"Considered by many to be John Dos Passos's greatest work, Manhattan Transfer is an 'expressionistic picture of New York' (New York Times) in the 1920s that reveals the lives of wealthy power brokers and struggling immigrants alike. From Fourteenth Street to the Bowery, Delmonico's to the underbelly of the city waterfront, Dos Passos chronicles the lives of characters struggling to become a part of modernity before they are destroyed by it. More than seventy-five years after its first publication, Manhattan Transfer still stands as "a novel of the very first importance" (Sinclair Lewis). It is a masterpeice of modern fiction and a lasting tribute to the dual-edged nature of the American dream."

Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
"Sasha Jensen has returned to Paris, the city of both her happiest moments and her most desperate. Her past lies in wait for her in cafes, bars, and dress shops, blurring all distinctions between nightmare and reality. When she is picked up by a young man, she begins to feel that she is still capable of desires and emotions. Few encounters in fiction have been so brilliantly conceived, and few have come to a more unforgettable end."

11 comments:

Quillhill said...

Sherwood Anderson sounds good.

SFP said...

The Small Room. I've never read May Sarton.

Stefanie said...

Nice selection!

My vote goes to Good Morning, Midnight. And in case there is instant runoff voting, second choice goes to The Awkward Age.

jlshall said...

Interesting list. I'd vote for Good Morning, Midnight. It's been on my TBR list for years now.

litlove said...

Ooh tricky choice. May Sarton for me, I think as I've been wanting to read her for ages (and I figure we need a good strong read and the Rhys would be brilliant but distressing and the James brilliant but hard going).

Ted said...

Fascinating choices, hard to choose. I've read the Anderson and the Sarton so I will vote for Good Morning Midnight, the Dos Passos would be my second choice.

Sarah said...

I'll vote for Sherwood Anderson as well.

Grad said...

Lovely list. I'll vote for The Small Room by Mary Sarton.

Kate S. said...

For me, it's a very tough choice between Jean Rhys and Sherwood Anderson, but I think in the end I'll vote for the Rhys as I'm very keen to read everyone else's reactions to it!

Dorothy W. said...

I'll vote for the Sarton. Good choices!

Iliana said...

Thank you for putting together the list Danielle!

I'll go with Sarton as I've read one of her books before and loved it. Would love to read more.