“Helena” by Evelyn Waugh

Published in 1950, it concerns the titular empress and saint, who lived during the 200s and 300s A.D. and was the mother of Constantine the Great. 

“Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton

But for me, Wharton’s rendering of this material transcends any of its shortcomings.  Even the depressing elements attain a grim beauty (Ethan’s search for Mattie after their failed suicide is a heartbreaking example).

“The Gulag Archipelago” by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

In short: “What does this have to do with the world that I know?”  But after delving into it, I came to realize just how relevant it is; and not only in the negative sense.

“The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler

Evil is vividly depicted in “The Big Sleep”, but the author never lapses into excess.  The result is a very enjoyable read, even for readers who are not big fans of mystery or detective fiction. 

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

The story as a whole is consistently compelling; it is witty, thoughtful, and in the end quite moving.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“The Brothers Karamazov”, Dostoyevsky’s last novel (1880), is generally considered to be his masterpiece. Its central theme is arresting and provocative: if there is no God and no life beyond this life, then morality is non-existent; ANYTHING goes.

The Phantom Farmhouse by Seabury Quinn

I would not call Seabury Quinn’s “The Phantom Farmhouse” a great work of literature; but it is good, and well worth reading—especially for fans of the horror genre that do not require high doses of violence and sex in their fictional products.

Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Published in 1932, it is an autobiographical novel that is told in first-person by a character named Ferdinand Bardamu.  He is a doctor but talks like a criminal, and his slangy, vulgar voice is generally gripping and sometimes uproarious.  It can also be quite disturbing, as when he describes his combat experiences during World War I.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

In a sense, then, Melville’s most famous work (published in 1851) is made up of two different books: the one is the novel proper, which is a great and unique work of American literature; the other is a long-winded and pedantic study of whaling and whales generally.

“Wise Blood” by Flannery O’Connor

The sheer originality of “Wise Blood” is, for me, one of its strongest attractions. It is an amazing grace tale that is simply inimitable—and amazing.

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