Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl with a new topic each week.
So the actual topic for this week is bingeworthy TV shows/amazing movies. But to be honest, I don’t watch a great deal of television, and I watch roughly two movies a year (does a third count if I’ve seen the first five minutes of Finding Nemo five thousand times?) so I thought I would twist this to the extreme and just stick to books. Literary fiction as a genre can sometimes produce more unwieldy, long and detailed novels, so I thought I’d list some that while maybe not ‘bingeable’, can be short and fast but interesting, condensed and striking reads.
PS, I’m slotting these under lit-fic for convenience’s sake. I think such boundaries are really more arbitrary than necessary.
1) Eileen (Ottessa Moshfegh)
Eileen is essentially a single character study, and so deliberately focussed and detailed that it goes very fast. We spent 270 odd pages in the mind of a deeply insecure, self-aware and disturbed young woman living with her alcoholic father. There is actually not a great deal of significant action in this book until towards the second half, but even then the selling point of this book hinges on how Moshfegh sketches with precise detail the psychological state of very specific kind of person. Eileen is not especially likeable, but this is somehow very readable all the same.
2) Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
I’ve yet to read anything else by Steinbeck, but this powerful and tragic novel about two ranch workers dreaming of a better future during the Great Depression has always stayed with me. The title is from a Robert Burns poem – “The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry” – and the novel is a moving and almost painful elucidation of those lines.
3) The Stepford Wives (Ira Levin)
Written in 1972, this is a satirical novel set in the fictional town of Stepford. When photographer Joanna Eberhart moves there with her husband and children, she is disturbed by the women of the community who seem submissive to an extreme. An important novel, and almost chilling in its figurative implications.
4) In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Daniyal Mueenuddin)
I have been recommending this book to a lot of people, and I’m not entirely sure why. Sparsely linked but otherwise independent stories tell of class, family, and gender in a dying Pakistani feudal order. I think this has received its fair share of criticism and I’m not oblivious to its exclusions, but I enjoyed reading it, although I found it to be (especially in certain stories) perhaps more invested in individual characters than society as a whole.
Four will have to do because I can’t think up a fifth. That’s all, folks.