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Eyewear THE BLOG is the most read British poetry blogzine, getting more than 20,000 page-views a month. It began in 2005. The views expressed by editor Todd Swift are not necessarily shared by the contributing poets and reviewers, and vice versa. Eyewear blog is archived by The British Library. Any material on this blog infringing copyright will be removed upon request.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

EYEWEAR'S 100 KEY CULT BOOKS OF THE LAST 100 YEARS

I have been working with a brilliant group of MLitt creative writing students at the University of Glasgow, one of the world's leading universities.  It became clear to me that their touchstones were not always mine - but sometimes, they very much were: some books are perennial, are loved, despite, or even because of, their canonical status.  Setting aside a few gems like Brideshead Revisited, Fiesta, and The Great Gatsby, which are too well known, arguably too merely literary, to be just Cult classics, here are the 100 (or 101 since there are two Outsiders) books of the last 100 years that every budding writer will want to read before they turn 21 - and are likely to read anyway, whether we like it or not.

To have started earlier, with Against Nature, or Heart of Darkness, would be to miss the point that the cultural phenomenon of the Cult book basically starts with the emergence of the teenager in the 50s and 60s, which is why Catcher in the Rye remains the quintessential Cult book.  My own favourite Camus is The Plague, but I felt it best to keep to one book per author (otherwise Camus, HesseBallard, Brett Easton Eliis and Bukowski would have had multiples). Oscar Wilde, Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche are obviously 19th century precursors for such angst-ridden works.

I welcome your suggestions for what is missing.  Note, there is sci-fi here, as well as horror and other genre fiction - and also graphic novels and memoirs. This list was compiled from speaking with my students, and also two key Irish writers and critics of our generation, Patrick Chapman and Bridget Hourican.  I also added a few of my own choices.  How many have you read?  I have a score of only 30% I confess.

A Clockwork Orange
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Scanner Darkly
A Separate Peace
Aberration of Starlight
American Psycho
An Angel at My Table
Ask the Dust
At Swim-Two-Birds
Atomised
Beautiful Losers
Bonjour Tristesse
Brave New World
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Bright Lights, Big City
Brighton Rock
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
Catch-22
Catcher in the Rye
Cold Comfort Farm
Down In the Zero
Dune
Exquisite Corpse
Factotum
Fahrenheit 451
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Fight Club
Geek Love
Generation X
Girl, Interrupted
Gravity’s Rainbow
How Late It Was How Late
I Am the Cheese
Infinite Jest
Interview with the Vampire
Lanark
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Leaving Las Vegas
Lolita
London Orbital
Lucky Jim
Maus
Money
Mysterious Skin
Naked Lunch
Nausea
Neuromancer
Never Let Me Go
Nightwood
Nineteen Eighty-Four
No One Belongs Here More Than You
Norwegian Wood
On The Road
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Our Lady of the Flowers
Persepolis
Portnoy's Complaint
Sexus
Slaughterhouse Five
Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel
Story of the Eye
Swing Hammer Swing
The Alexandria Quartet
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
The Atrocity Exhibition
The Beach
The Bell Jar
The Bloody Chamber
The Day of the Locust
The End of Alice
The Fountainhead
The Glass Bead Game
The Gormenghast trilogy
The Handmaid's Tale
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
The History of Luminous Motion
The Lord of the Flies
The Man with the Golden Arm
The Master and Margarita
The Moviegoer
The Outsider (Camus and Wilson)
The Painted Bird
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Razor’s Edge
The Secret History
The Sheltering Sky
The Story of O
The Trial
The Virgin Suicides
The Wasp Factory
To Kill a Mockingbird
Trainspotting
Under The Volcano
Watchmen
Water Music
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Wetlands
White Noise


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