Friday, March 28, 2008

KSK Mock Draft: Books We Like! Featuring Whatshisface from Deadspin


This week's mock draft, about which we were entirely too passionate for a bunch of idiot bloggers, concerns books. And just for fun, we invited a guest draftee: author and noted essayist Will Leitch, who is otherwise unaffiliated with sports blogs.

The guidelines: These are books that you're going to force a class of high school seniors to read. Assume that it's a public high school in a mostly middle class town: a few of the students are exceptional, a few are just passing time until they get pregnant or turn 18, and most are intelligent enough to read and enjoy a book but are generally too uninterested to do so. You may select a book for any reason: to better their enjoyment of literature, to educate them, or to torture them with highfalutin bullshit -- as long as you yourself have read the book cover to cover. It can be any one-volume bound book, any genre, and by any author except Will Leitch. Once a book is selected, all other tomes by that author are off-limits.

This is a long motherfucker (three rounds), so I edited out most of our douchey faux-intellectual repartee. Most of you will probably appreciate that, but if you're dying for more Gay Mafia + Leitch chatter, transcripts of the email threads can be purchased by sending $10 to my PayPal account.



Round 1

1. CHRISTMAS APE: My Dark Places by James Ellroy


"These dewy eyed little shits need something that conveys some sense of the ugliness of the real world. Better still if it's expertly written and unstintingly honest. "My Dark Places" is at once a harrowing autobiography of a great writer and his youth spent on the streets, dealing with and trying to solve his mother's murder and a compelling detective procedural all in one. Thank me later, kidlets."



2. FLUBBY : Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson

"Seriously kids, save yourself the time and expense of a political science major/minor. Read this, read "All the King's Men" and you're good to go."

Thanks, flub. Where were you when my adviser told me I needed to take a mere seven poli sci classes my senior year to upgrade my minor to a double major?

Drew: Punter's up. Will he take some sort of donkey fucking book? I say yes.

3. MONDAY MORNING PUNTER: Harrington on Hold 'em, Volume II, by Dan Harrington

"Are we going to teach young people about money management? Risk? Reading people? Relative value? Poker is a great laboratory for all of those things, and I'm not alone in that assessment. The Harrington on series are probably the best books for the best poker game out there. But Volume I isn't really practical for home game play and III is really just a workbook. For shorthanded game instruction, theory, and analysis, II can't be beat.

"They probably already teach this in junior high in Nevada, anyway."

4. LEITCH: The Long Walk, by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

"This is one of the 'Bachman Books,' that collection of four novels that Stephen King wrote when he was, like, 19. Two of these aren't very good (even the one that inspired The Running Man, which is, god yes, quite good), one is decent if kind of creepy in the wake of all the school shootings (Rage) and one is balls-out fucking awesome. That's The Long Walk.

"The premise of the book is simple. In one of those not-too-distant futures that people love to write about, a dictator called The Major stages a yearly 'race' called The Long Walk. One hundred young men all line up and walk. That's it. You have to walk four miles an hour, and if you go under that speed three times in an hour, you're shot dead. That's the whole book. We meet all the different competitors, some of whom are compelling, some cliched, some just faceless nameless dead guys. Because he was about 20 years old when he wrote it, there's a lot of psychological metaphorical mumbo-jumbo that King would be smart enough to remove when he got older. But it's just a long, long walk, with a bunch of guys talking to each other, watching each other die. It's a brilliant idea for a book, and it's a book I must have read about 100 times in high school. When I'm in-between books now, I'm prone to pulling out my old ratty, rotting copy of The Bachman Books to read this again. It's not brilliant, but it rivets me every time I read it, even if I always know how it's gonna turn out. I read a lot of really boring books that I'm 'supposed' to enjoy. I still read this, over and over; it never fails me."

Leitch making a sentimental pick? So unlike him.

5. BIG DADDY DREW: A Confederacy Of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole


"A story about a big fat arrogant masturbator who farts a lot? I win."

"It smells terrible in here."

"Well, what do you expect? The human body when confined, produces certain odors which we tend to forget in this age of deodorants and other perversions. Actually, I find the atmosphere of this room rather comforting. Schiller needed the scent of apples rotting in his desk in order to write. I ,too, have my needs. You may remember that Mark Twain preferred to lie supinely in bed while composing those rather dated and boring efforts which contemporary scholars try to prove meaningful. Veneration of Mark Twain is one of the roots of our current intellectual stalemate."


6. CAPTAIN CAVEMAN: The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien

I can't find a single fault with this book. O'Brien captures every aspect of combat in the present tense perfectly -- the foolhardy romance, the boredom, the instant surprise of death -- while toying with how memory changes our stories. It is a novel made from perfectly interwoven short stories, a work of fiction that feels like a memoir, and a contemplative meditation on story-telling all at once. It is a fucking masterpiece.

Ape: [after a quiet lull] How long does it take you to do a write-up on Invisible Man, Maj?

Maj: oh fuck

7. UNSILENT MAJORITY: Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

"I read this one three times over the course of my high school career, once with a fantastic teacher who loved teaching the book, once with a good teacher who would rather have been reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, and once more on my own. I continue to read it on a regular basis today, I even have a copy here at work. I'm not sure how much a class of average high school students would get out of a single reading, but I'd make damn sure they read it at least that first time."

Round 2

8. MAJ: Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau

"Because those fuckers better start learning how to stand up to the government."


9. CAVEMAN: Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

It's hard to single one book out, because Philip Marlowe kicks so much fucking ass in every Chandler novel. I don't read enough mysteries to judge whether the plots hold up next to other giants of the genre, but the hardboiled prose, crystal-clear characterizations, and vividly gritty settings should be required for any teenager who's played Grand Theft Auto.

I'm still pissed that I had to find Chandler on my own. Fucking worthless education.

10. DREW: 10. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

You put so much stock in winning wars. The real trick lies in losing wars, in knowing which wars can be lost. Italy has been losing wars for centuries, and just see how spendidly we've done nonetheless. France wins wars and is in a continual state of crisis. Germany loses and prospers. Look at our own recent history. Italy won a war in Ethiopia and promptly stumbled into serious trouble. Victory gave us such insane delusions of grandeur that we helped start a world war we hadn't a chance of winning. But now that we're losing again, everything has taken a turn for the better, and we will certainly come out on top again if we succeed in being defeated.

"Yep, that's my kind of book."

Me: Catch-22's narrative arc is one of the most impressive things I've ever seen in fiction. That said, Heller needed an editor to kick his ass for his over-use of two-dollar words.

Drew: What are you, the dad from "Squid and the Whale"? Piss off.

Me: [opens up Catch-22 to random page] Page 45, these are the dialogue descriptors:

asked replied informed repeated reflected wondered mused echoed

SAID. The word is fucking SAID. It's a pet peeve of mine when writers use words that get in the way of dialogue.

Drew: I have an idea. When YOU write one of the greatest novels of all time, you can nitpick Heller's dialogue descriptors all you please.

Punter: Drew will change his tune when they release the updated, salmon-colored paperback.

11. LEITCH: Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem

"Typically, I hate it when smart people tell me which great books to read. Sixty-five percent of the time, I can't make it halfway through; this is a decided disadvantage of not being smart. This is not one of that 65 percent. It's such a fast, gritty story that you don't notice you just read a Great Book until you're done. And, if you're lucky, not even then."

Everyone who's read it agrees: that book is fucking awesome.

12. PUNTER: Way of the Turtle, by Curtis Faith

"It's fucking sweet; think Trading Places without the 'comic' 'stylings' of Dan Akroyd. Of course, all of you hate finance, but had you been exposed to it at a younger age, you'd understand that markets and volatility are to be treasured, and that pedestrian dipshits like Matt Lauer should just shut the fuck up. There IS NO RECESSION!"

13. FLUB: The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon


"Because it is important for youngsters to learn sooner rather than later that every observer has their own take on what constitutes 'reality' -- and when your reality starts to get a little squishy... well, the fun is just beginning."

14. APE: Palestine by Joe Sacco


"Yes, it's a graphic novel. It's also one of the main things that got me into journalism (Which I could hold against it, but am choosing not to). Sacco, an American Jew, delves deeply and powerfully into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, getting a lot of the narratives from people that are never heard from in typical reportage. His drawing style both assists and propels the narrative, at once lifting comics and journalism into art."

Round 3

15. APE: Ulysses by James Joyce


"'Cause it'll take the little fuckers the rest of their adult lives to read it."

Maj: and I thought Dickens would be harsh.

Drew: Could have been worse for them. He could have picked Finnegan's Wake. Nothing like trying to parse experimental, complex linguistic tricks typed out by a man who's nearly stricken blind. With footnotes that make equally little sense.

Maj: We aren't allowed to stop until Ufford picks a Nabokov book.

Ape: /awaits pale fire joke

Me: I love Nabokov, but I don't think I'd push it on high schoolers.

Drew: That's the guy Sting sang about, right? He's gay.

Me
: Nabokov could ass-rape Joe Heller.

Maj: he's also a vastly superior writer!

16. FLUB: V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore


"Moore gets cranky when people compare his fictional British totalitarian government to American neo-conservatives. I say if the shoe fits, use it to kick Karl Rove in the nuts."

17. PUNTER: The GM, Tom Callahan.

"Probably the best inside peek of a football team that there is, although Next Man Up by Feinstein is awfully close. GM wins out because it's a little dirtier, a little less sympathetic. The resilient quote from the book is when Ernie Acorsi, right as he's leaving his dream job, adresses the team he literally built and announced plainly, 'I believe there is a championship in this room.' As it turns out, he was right."

18. LEITCH: World War Z, by Max Brooks


"Because books about the impending zombie holocaust are not just instructive, they're vital."

19. DREW: The Dirt by Neil Strauss and Motley Crue

"I'm not subjecting my kids to some bullshit Toni Morrison book. For the final book on the syllabus, they learn important lessons, like to how survive a Ferrari wreck while ensuring that Hanoi Rocks never records another album, and learning how to do a speedball and then nail a guy's ear to the floor of your apartment.

"Most entertaining book I ever read? Fuck and yes."

20. CAVEMAN: The Contortionist's Handbook, Craig Clevenger

Clevenger writes his ass off in this novel about a forger with polydactyly whose drug addiction threatens to land him in a mental hospital. It's an addictive read, and I always pick it up whenever I feel my prose is uninspired and flat.

21. MAJ: World's End by TC Boyle

"I'm passing on the obvious (anything written by Michael Chabon) this time around, and I'm also forgoing any book that they'd likely have read by now. Instead I'm selecting World's End because I've always felt that it's the kind of book I should have been reading in high school."

World's End? More like DRAFT'S END! Boosh!

215 comments:

dick_gozinia said...

Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut, because kids need to get exposed to brilliant cynicism and a bleek world view as early as possible.

Hi ho!

/bdd stole my confederacy of dunces pick.

//anybody that picks Naked Lunch is a fucking asshole because that's the worst book ever written.

quiet strength said...

Women by Charles Bukowski. The Warren Moon of this draft.

Skye said...

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Love that book.
Read it in high school and it has stuck with me a long time.



I guess they even made a movie about it too...

MicroscopicElvis said...

Fear and Loathing is a great pick. Just read it for the 5th time & it is particularly apropos given the current Democratic nominating process. Fun to think about Hillary as a treacherous gutless old ward-heeler.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Chabon. Best piece of fiction of the last 25 years.

futuremrsrickankiel said...

Les Particules élémentaires (The Elementary Particles), by Michel Houellebecq.

The philosophy major in me dug the post-Nietzschean world view; the bleeding-heart hippie in me seriously bawled like a fucking baby for a good 20 minutes at the end. This book is a life-changing read. I'm not even convinced I need to draft any more.

Smello said...

Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos.

I only recently read it for the first time, but I just loved it. The language might be a little flowery for high schoolers, but it's about sex and fucking with people in really mean ways; two things high schoolers seem to be good at.

Otto Man said...

Orwell's 1984

Although in light of the Bush administration, we'd need to point out to the students that Orwell was describing a bad future.

brick said...

Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich

High School kids all think they know everything and are invincible, so I'll enjoy hearing about how my class all got their legs broken when they go to vegas and try to count cards.

Hopefuly the mob offs a few of them, since there are too many stupid kids in the world.

the great bambi said...

The Count of Monte Cristo-Alexander Dumas

People are gonna fuck you over in life and if you're gonna get revenge you better do it right

Rocco said...

The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay. Just a good story.

The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand. Kids don't have enough idealism; too many people settle for the status quo and forget right from wrong.

It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins. If nothing else but to learn what a bad ass Lance Armstrong is.

Raskolnikov said...

If this double posts, I apologize.

Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett.

A book full of shitting, masturbating and pointless killing? Sold.

Big Daddy Drew said...

Clockwork Orange

YOINK!

dick_gozinia said...

@ otto man - one of my favorites...nice pick.

johnny got his gun - dalton trumbo.

I actually had to read this in high school and was blown away by it.

Unsilent Majority said...

I can't believe I forgot Heart of Darkness.

devang said...

The Best and The Brightest - David Halberstam

(Five One Eight) said...

The Verificationist by Donald Antrim. Abstract Philosophy + Sex Comedy = Should-Be Cult Classic.

quiet strength said...

Dreams from My Father by President Barack Obama - before otto gets it.

dickey simpkins said...

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam.

I know sports other than football are sacrilege on this site, but seriously this is probably one of the greatest books written about any sport.

Gallows Gnome said...

The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I've probably read it 10 times and still take something new away from it. Every little snowflake should be required to read it at least twice.

Chip Fu said...

graphic novels...

the high-school teacher's last sad gasp before throwing in the towel, tearing up the syllabus, putting whiskey in his morning coffee and showing movies in class.

The Lazer said...

Lesbian Sex Tips: A guide for anyone who wants to bring pleasure to the woman he or she loves.

Might as well prepare everyone for a modern college experience.

Unsilent Majority said...

Crime and Punishment

awesomeness

SMP said...

Candide, Voltaire

Brilliant, short and to the point

devang said...

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

Unsilent Majority said...

Brilliant, short and to the point

very true

Pemulis said...

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - Milan Kundera

devang said...

The Bhagavad Gita

'Nuff said.

Christmas Ape said...

Chip Fu:

But Maus won a Pulitzer!

Slothrop said...

Gravity's Rainbow. Pynchon.

Also, Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle. Stephenson kicks serious ass.

futuremrsrickankiel said...

I taught "Hedda Gabler" to my seniors last year and, for some reason, they all freaking LOVED it. I'm going to take that.

romolovescock said...

harry potter, the 5th one. what fun that was

Big Daddy Drew said...

Private Parts.

It follows the crucial rule of show, don't tell, particular in regards to boobs.

quiet strength said...

Seniors may prefer Nana, but I'm picking Germinal Émile Zola. Bitchin.

(Five One Eight) said...

No Country For Old Men - Cormac McCarthy. Best meditation on the nature of evil I read in forever. Also short and quick.

Downside - half-ruined the movie experience, since both are near dead-on the same.

Pemulis said...

Underworld - Don Delillo

MicroscopicElvis said...

Unidentified Flying Outrage by the head of the Spaceology Department at the Correspondence College of Tampa.

Underworld by Delillo

Unsilent Majority said...

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

most important auto-biography in us history

Unsilent Majority said...

...but hopefully they've already read it

Claude Balls said...

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain.

That badass wrote an anitracism book in the 19th century south. Balls, I tell you, great big hairy balls.

Plus, the frequent appearance of the term "nigger" is likely to stir up some fun and give the kids a lesson in freedom of speech and the bullshit that is political correctness.

Otto Man said...

Michael Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay

Comic book writers, the Holocaust, and New York Fucking City. If that doesn't grab the attention of a high school senior, you need to check their pulse.

And sorry, I have to vote against Ayn Rand. The central message of The Fountainhead isn't idealism, it's a rationale for selfishness, and that's the last damn thing a high school kid needs reinforced.

Plus, it reads about as well as the Chicago phone book and is just as long.

Undead Zombie Horde said...

The Beach- Alex Garland

I read this while living in a hut in teh middle of the rainforests of Belize. No Shit.

Lord of the Flies on acid.

Pemulis said...

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values - Robert Pirsig

Pemulis said...

also, i can't believe no one has mentioned the LOTR trilogy yet

smurphette said...

@BDD: Word on Toni Morrison. She blows and I could not read past the first chapter of one of her books in high school.

@romolovescock: That was definitely the best one of the series.

I take Persuasion by Jane Austen. Most girls aren't Scarlett Johanssen, and most guys aren't Brad Pitt, and high school is the time when kids need to be reminded that it's okay not to be, and that you can still be happy. Plus, it makes fun of people who deserve it.

Slothrop said...

whoops on the Rainbow pick--missed the oeuvre rule.

Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed then. Short, full of pictures, and says Warren Harding was the first black president. With pictures.

Otto Man said...

Dreams from My Father by President Barack Obama - before otto gets it.

Actually, I've never read it. I'm waiting for Denzel to do the movie.

And hell yes on Twain. Roughing It and Pudd'nhead Wilson should be added.

Fuck it, make them read it all.

Unsilent Majority said...

damnit otto, i was saving that

MDT said...

It's been about 10 years since I've read it so I dunno how it holds up, but I remember loving the shit out of The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.

Whisk E. Bear said...

The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov.

Bulgakov grabs everyone -- the bourgeoisie, the elites, the intellectuals, the officials -- of Soviet Russia, and tosses them all in front of a trolley.

MicroscopicElvis said...

They Marched Into Sunlight by David Maraniss. Good pairing with The Best and Brightest for Vietnam era politics. Plus any Wisconsin alums get a good retrospective of how fucked up divided Madison was at the time

Captain Caveman said...

also, i can't believe no one has mentioned the LOTR trilogy yet

Probably because the movies are far superior. Peter Jackson edited out all the five-page non sequitur songs.

Pemulis said...

/fights back nerd rage and desire to rant about scouring of the shire, etc.

Ben said...

On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

Sal Paradise is the best positive role model a high schooler could want.

dick_gozinia said...

We could run an entire pseudo-history class around 'Fingerprints of the Gods' by Graham Hancock. We could also offer a secondary course in his 'The Sign and the Seal' which chronicles Hancock's Indiana Jones-like search for the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia.

Great books that actually make you think about civilization origins and our warped view of "history".

Skye said...

Carnage and Culture - Victor Davis Hanson.

So the guy is a hawk and the argument doesn't quite work all the time, but it is still a great read on western civilization and how it wages war.

futuremrsrickankiel said...

I'm torn, because I love Hemingway, but my kids last year would have absolutely mutinied if I made them slog through that.

I think I'll go with Drown, or any other short fiction by Junot Diaz.

Chris(BessMervinGirlDetective) said...

How the fuck has the Great Gatsby fallen this far? Anyways it's all mine now.

Smello said...

Heart of Darkness is a great pick. I love that book.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

I find Card's stuff to be a fast/easy read without being simplistic. Ender's Game might seem a little young for seniors, but it could lead to some interesting discussions about the role of the military/government & how far is too far to save yourselves. There are a few more books in the series & they're all enjoyable, but I found they got a little preachy.

Pemulis said...

Sorrows of Young Werther - Goethe.

Slothrop said...

As I Lay Dying. Faulkner.

"My mother is a fish." ftw.

Undead Zombie Horde said...

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

Really? This was available?

Whisk E. Bear said...

@mrsankiel

Then I'll take Papa and go with the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. More accessible than the novels, and it includes the greats like Snows of Kilimanjaro and Short Happy Life of Frances Macomber.

Chris(BessMervinGirlDetective) said...

The Old Man and the Sea

- Reminds me of Marty

MicroscopicElvis said...

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.

Captain Caveman said...

As I Lay Dying. Faulkner.

I read that in high school. I wanted to murder my teacher for it. Way to waste a pick.

Unsilent Majority said...

Ordinary People

Otto Man said...

damnit otto, i was saving that

Sorry, Maj, but your first three all would've been on my list.

We're just a tea cozy away from forming a book club.

Smello said...

pemulis - as a nerd myself, I really, really tried to read LOTR, but it took me 5 tries at starting and then several weeks to finish Fellowship. The Hobbit was great, but Fellowship made me want to poke out my eyes so much that I'll never feel the need to torture myself with the other 2.

Whisk E. Bear said...

The Sound and the Fury is much, much better.

dick_gozinia said...

The Chrysalids - John Wyndham.

A truly smart book that shows us a reborn society after an implied nuclear holocaust. Its a clever meditation on racism, religion, and society in general. And its a ridiculously quick read...always a plus.

Big Daddy Drew said...

Animal Farm for me.

Short book. Class outside today, kids.

Gallows Gnome said...

Machiavelli's The Prince. The perfect book for this election year. You could spend a whole semester comparing his views on governance, advancement and waging war and what is going on in the world right now.

Also, Ender's Game is an outstanding pick.

SMP said...

Les Miserables

Chris(BessMervinGirlDetective) said...

A Good Man is Hard to Find -

Flannery O'Connor

This short story, all though there are several that should be included with this, is fucking awesome. You have your womanizing of a women who has a prosthetic leg which you steal at the end of the story. Awesome.

Ginsu said...

The Stranger. I loved the book in English; I loved it even more in French.

Otto Man said...

Actually, we'd have to let Flubby in the book club since he stole as many of my picks. Bring the crumpets!

Since I already have 1984, I'll pair the dystopian fun with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It's like a more literate version of "Idiocracy," and these days, seems scarily prophetic.

Whisk E. Bear said...

Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger

Stands on its own merits; more importantly, establishes The Catcher in the Rye cockblock. These fucking kids have enough angst.

Illegal Immigrant said...

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

I read that thing in three-straight, sleepless days. Who cares if the entire class decides it'll be a good idea to drop acid after reading it? Wolfe at his finest.

Oh, and as Extra Credit: Bonfire of Vanities

Claude Balls said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Undead Zombie Horde said...

I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

I feel like I brought this up here recently. Plague draft?

John John The Bastard said...

The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman. A fake almanac made up of wildly implausible stories that read like they are true? Yessir.

Claude Balls said...

Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk

The ability to kill annoying fucks by reciting a children's poem? The kids would be all over that.

Fight Club would be too obvious. Plus, they've seen the movie.

crazyjoedavola said...

Confederacy of Dunces would have been my first. Great book released 11 years after the author kills himself... awesome

Since that

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Made me either want to become a writer, or murder a Kansas family. Either way, love that book.

KC Cal said...

Battle Royale - Koushun Takami

Survivor + weapons. Also, better than the movie. And no, I don't watch anime and I'm not in love with Japan.

Slothrop said...

wasted pick? From the guy who picked The Things They Carried? shit, that book's great. I stand by As I Lay Dying. Multiple POVs including the dead mother, the crazy son, and the nympho daughter.

and my next pick is Time's Arrow.

Joel said...

Motherless Brookyln is the SOD. That pick alone might get me to check out some of the books on this list I haven't read. Nice list.

peb said...

@quiet strength

Like the mention of Zola, but I'd take The Masterpiece (or L'oeuvre for all you Francophiles out there). Great lesson on chasing perfection and how it can drive you mad.

Chris(BessMervinGirlDetective) said...

I will also take The Misfits. Another short story from O'Connor.

This time the grandmother gets shot at the end of the story.

Pemulis said...

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami

Pemulis said...

@Chris(BessMervinGirlDetective)

Why not just take the book "3" which is a collection of a number of her short stories, including both of those.

Matt said...

The Human Stain by Philip Roth. Everyone know about Portnoy's Complaint and the Human Stain movie wasn't all that but the book sure as hell was.

Slothrop said...

@Chris(BessMervinGirlDetective) The Misfit is in "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Tracer Bullet said...

"The Spook Who Sat by The Door" by Sam Greenlee. Might as well scare the crackers and give the black kids something to hope for.

I wanted to like it, but I never could get into "A Confederacy of Dunces."

And fuck you, Caveman for taking Chandler then blowing the pick. "The Big Sleep," asswipe.

Chris(BessMervinGirlDetective) said...

@Pemulis - that would be too easy. Actually I would just take the Complete Collection which has everything.

stealofthedraft said...

I bow down to futuremrsetc's Houellebecq pick. Awesome book!

Ginsu said...

The World According to Garp, by John Irving. A little something for everybody: sex, violence, sex and violence, prostitution, car accidents, infidelity, death, and tongueless cultists. My favorite book on the planet.

Pemulis said...

Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace, if i were feeling particularly masochistic towards the group of students.

My Insignificant Life said...

Lion In The White House

A Bio of Teddy Roosevelt by Aida Donald. It's just under 300 pages and tells the story of one of the greatest Presidents in the 20th Century.

Undead Zombie Horde said...

A People's History of the United States - Howard Zinn

"Howdya like them apples?"

In all seriousness this should be required reading somewhere in the education system.

Whisk E. Bear said...

American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

And on the last day of class, we can watch the sort-of-crappy movie!

Sisto said...

Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow. Anyone born with a penis should be required to read this before the age of 25.

Claude Balls said...

@ginsu:

Really? I'd go with A Prayer for Owen Meany, but would let the kids skip most of the parts about the narrator's life in (then) current day Toronto. I realize that no one gets his dick bitten off, but that book got to me far more than did Garp.

Pemulis said...

Trout Fishing in America - Richard Brautigan

Tracer Bullet said...

"Cyrano de Bergerac" by Edmond Rostand. I stole a copy of it from my high school more than a decade ago (shit, I'm old) and I still love it today. The very definition of tragic romantic hero.

Slothrop said...

Gibson, Pattern Recognition. Neuromancer sucks.

Jim U. said...

The Stucture of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. Make those little fuckers think once in a while.

Big Daddy Drew said...

Heat, by Bill Buford

/do not read when hungry

Ginsu said...

@ Claude Balls:

Owen Meany is neck and neck with The Cider House Rules on my list of Irving novels, behind A Widow for One Year. I read Garp during a life-altering summer; the book made me get serious about writing.

j_brock said...

The Stand - Stephen King.
Fuck all the highbrow bullshit. I like Hemmingway as much as the next douchebag, but this book has a killer virus named after Jerry Garcia. Game over.

John John The Bastard said...

Obedience to Authority by Stanley Millgram. The study that essentially had actors fake death by electrocution in social experiment to determine how far people would go in order to appease the powers that be.

Pemulis said...

House of Leaves - Mark Danielewski

quiet strength said...

@peb - Any of the Rougon-Macquarts would be safe. Yes, The Masterpiece is excellent.

@pemulis - I'm with you on LOTR.

My next pick is It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Because fuck Main Street. Every high school teacher assigns it (or maybe just in Indiana) and it blows. It's like 1984 before there was 1984.

Archie Micklewhite said...

End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov. The Foundation or Robot books might be more obvious, but it's my favorite book of all time and it was pretty much my dream throughout high school to just once do a book that completely failed every standard literary test. You know, no metaphors or symbolism, very little by way of deep characterization. Just lots of ideas, dialogue, and plot tricks. So just like every other Asimov book, plus a really kickass conception of time travel.

I'll go back to being a lurking nerd now.

Ginsu said...

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Slash said...

RE Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos - in French? Or English translation? I think I read this thing in French. Pretty good. When people say shit gets lost in translation, they're right.

And I wanted "Private Parts," dammit. There's no way a high school would let you assign it, but seriously, it's a good book.

I would have also picked "Catch-22," but alas, already taken.

If I actually liked the kids and wanted them to enjoy it, I'd consider asssigning "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Quick read (I think it's less than 150 pages) and hilarious.

If I wanted them to learn something and still be entertained, I'd assign "The Boys on the Bus" (Crouse) or "Parliament of Whores" (O'Rourke). Both funny.

Spatula said...

The Iceman Cometh because everybody should have pipedreams (and it takes place in a bar). I tried to get my wife to read this play for 10 years. When she finally did, her only comment was "they're just a bunch of drunks." One person's profundity is another's banality.

Slothrop said...

good pick on "Good Omens" Slash; I was going to pick "Neverwhere" next. Bastard.

Ok, Roddy Doyle, "Barrytown Trilogy" and what fun the parents will be when they see how often working class Irish people say cunt.

Tracer Bullet said...

"Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" Not just porn, but porn that required a Supreme Court ruling to be allowed into the country so you know it's good. Plus the little bastards need to learn that there is more to titillation than watching donkey sex online.

Spud Randall said...

When the Nines Roll Over by David Benioff (wrote 25th Hour) short stories for playstation generation.

peb said...

The Neon Bible was written by the same guy who wrote A Confederacy of Dunces except he wrote it when he was 16. Maybe that would inspire those shiftless punks to be better students. Or not.

SonOfSpam said...

Is To Kill a Mockingbird too obvious?

If so, gimme The Iliad. The Trojan War was badass.

Claude Balls said...

@ginsu:

Who's the author?

Re Garp: If it changed your life, who am I to argue?

Next pick: Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Kids should have some understanding of the world and why it is the way it is, right?

Undead Zombie Horde said...

Black Elk Speaks - John Neihardt

In a weird, roundabout way this book influenced my entire life.

Slash said...

RE Slothrop said...

Sorry... OK, not really. "Good Omens" rocks, I've read it quite a few times. If you can't have fun with the Apocalypse, what can you have fun with? The ending is especially great. I'm sure Jesus freaks would hate it, which makes me love it even more. And who does not want their own hound of hell?

quiet strength said...

I don't think any Thomas Hardy has been taken yet, right? I'll take The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Smello said...

Slash - I only read Liaisons in English so I can't speak to what gets lost. And, you took my next pick - Good Omens is ridiculously awesome.

I'll go with His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I know it's a triology, but each book is pretty short so the kids should read them all.

Undead Zombie Horde said...

Also, I have to say that I am profoundly relieved that no one has tried to list The Celestine Prophecy.

I was once told that it "changed lives." It was the dumbest fucking thing I have ever wasted my time on. Not only did I forever think that girl was a moron, but I have a deep, burning hatred for it.

Spud Randall said...

Fahrenheit 451 blows 1984's doors completely off

futuremrsrickankiel said...

Vor dem Ruhestand (Before the Retirement), Thomas Bernhard. This is the second play I'm drafting, but my god it's so creepy and so good. Plus, you can't teach kids the danger of hate rhetoric too early, and since you guys took all the juicy dystopian fiction already, I have to go about it in a sneaky Austrian way.

Tracer Bullet said...

While Warren Ellis' "Transmetropolitan" is a comic book series not a novel, it is incredibly instructive. I was in college for most of the title's run and it helped convince me to become a newspaper reporter. For good or for ill.

Eagle in Brighton said...

Blood Meridian- Cormac McCarthy

Dark, yet exquisitely written. THIS is McCathy's masterpiece, not No Country for Old Men...

stealofthedraft said...

Don DeLillo's Libra is an awesome book. I also second the acclaim for The Human Stain. Great read; my favorite Roth.

Slash said...

Go ahead and mock if you want, but "The Yearling" is another I'd assign. That thing made me cry every time I read it. It's beautifully written.

RE Liaisons: I read it in high school, but I probably wouldn't be able to now. I think it was for French class or French club or something like that. Shit, I can't remember. Pretty good movie, too, if you don't mind watching Michelle Pfeiffer cry every 5 minutes, but Glenn Close and Malkovich are fucking awesome in that movie.

denvergodfather said...

Undead Zombie Horde said...
Black Elk Speaks - John Neihardt

In a weird, roundabout way this book influenced my entire life.

That would have been my pick. That book is wonderful.

quiet strength said...

@futuremrs. - I hadn't thought of drama. I'll take Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolfe. Nice.

Slash said...

"Call of the Wild," if it's not too soon to pick another.

Spatula said...

Since we're drafting series, I take King's Dark Tower series (the only books of his I've read because I started reading these when they first appeared as short stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). The books take on racism, sexism, drug abuse (among other issues). Hell, he's got interracial sex with a paraplegic; that'll get the kiddies talking. The ending is brilliant because: 1) quests don't end and 2) it's not a definite ending where everybody lives happily ever after (that sort of ending is so, what's the word ... American).

Ginsu said...

I'll grab "Rhinoceros" by Eugene Ionesco before there's a serious run on plays.

Tom Brady's Man Chowder said...

Love in the Time of Cholera, because 100 Years of Solitude would be wasted on high schoolers.

Jonah said...

Hubert Selby's Requiem For a Dream. I'd make 'em read the book AND watch the movie - if they take heroin after that, I'll applaud their dedication to addiction.

Nacho Friendly said...

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

Models, terrorists, Easton-doing-Ludlum.

Fuck and yes.

Zodiac said...

Heart of Darkness was mentioned but not it's companion novel, "Lord of the Flies". Kids need to learn that they're really all evil, and that it's simply society and the etiquette we're taught that keeps us from putting each others heads on stakes.

Sup?

Smurftastic said...

About a Boy, Nick Hornby. Tough call here between this and and High Fidelity by Hornby. Both are entertaining reads, but if I'm giving it to high schoolers, About a Boy teaches a better lesson, and has an overarching theme of Kurt Cobain. Chill.

smurphette said...

@whiske.bear: Great call on Franny & Zooey.

Next I'll go with The Coming of the New Deal by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Shows how close we came to the collapse of not only the economy, but American society in general, during the Great Depression and what public service can look like in its most genuine form. The first section on the Hundred Days is particularly excellent, and one of my favorite bits of writing ever.

John John The Bastard said...

I cannot believe that even though it was alluded to way early that nobody picked MAUS I & II. That being said I will take those.

Tracer Bullet said...

"Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets" David Simon, back when he was still just a pain-in-the-ass crime reporter and not a pain-in-the-ass TV producer, spent a year embedded with the Baltimore PD Homicide Squad. It's a colossal piece of journalism, sociology, drama and writing.

Matt said...

@ Spatula - I loved most of King's Dark Tower series, especially the first 4 books, but once King inserted himself into the story I felt like he was phoning it in a bit. He didn't have to be so literal about the van sideswiping him.

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Ian Pears. One hell of a good murder mystery, I had to read it a couple times to figure out what happened.

EC said...

"Portnoy's Complaint" by Philip Roth.

Nothing like a little sexual self loathing and humiliation to show high schoolers what they have coming to them.

Undead Zombie Horde said...

Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck - Christopher Moore

Not epic or education in way, shape or form but it gave me my favorite phrase for a few months: "Fucksocks!"

Jeffrey said...

Pretty sure I saw this picked early on here, but Johnny Got Huis Gun by Dalton Trumbo is lifechanging. I first read it at a point in my adolescence where I was beginning to realize that there was more to find in a book than just the words on the page and I had my hair blown back by this.

Any book containing a song sung a bomb to the man it will eventually destroy is worth checking out

G said...

How about the bestselling fiction and non-fiction books of all time**:

The Bible
The Godfather

--heathens

Mike H. said...

I saw a guy reading a hardcover copy of dirt that he'd taken out of the Queensbridge library on the subway once...bad ass.

quiet strength said...

I'm picking the Left Behind series. It's racist, misogynistic, anti-every religion except evangelical Protestantism but especially Catholicism, eurocentric, patronizing, repetitive, repetitive, and needlessly turned into 16 books solely for the sake of profit. But other than that, it'll be a real treat for the kids.

Undead Zombie Horde said...

you say "heathen" like its a bad thing.

EC said...

Oops, just saw someone else reference Portnoy's Complaint so let's go with "Death in Midsummer and other stories" by Yukio Mishima.

Although technically a collection of short stories, "Patriotism" alone has more depth of character than most novels out there.

Gallows Gnome said...

The Seven Sisters by Anthony Sampson (nonfiction). Pretty hard to find a copy but it is a really interesting read on the rise of the multinational oil companies, OPEC and the oil markets up through the 1970's. A lot of really interesting characters and historical background.

Ben said...

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.

With that title you'd think the book would be pretentious and self-indulging, but it's hilarious and touching without being maudlin. Also, it will make everyone glad that it's no longer the 90's.

Ben said...

If anyone puts a Mitch Albom book on this list I will tear your throat out.

Whisk E. Bear said...

Moneyball, Billy Beane. For a book-burning.

/Joe Morgan

Has anyone taken Don Quixote? No?

Killer windmills! Dragon wineskins! Poop jokes! Moors! Cervantes -- Not just a Soul Calibur character!

Weber said...

No "American Tabloid?" And "The Watchmen" > "V for Vendetta"

Whisk E. Bear said...

@ weber: I'm with you on Watchmen.

Sisto said...

"Once a book is selected, all other tomes by that author are off-limits.
"

Ape took an Ellroy book 1st overall.
American Tabloid is an awesome book.

TR said...

150 picks in and The Martian Chronicles (Ray Bradbury) is on the board? Winner.

Weber said...

@ sisto: Shit, the fine print.

conniesmack said...

O'Brien is a genius...I wrote my thesis on The Things They Carried. In the Lake of the Woods is incredible too.

Whisk E. Bear said...

Any O'Brien fans who haven't already should read "Going After Cacciato."

John John The Bastard said...

I would like to think that a board this deep would have seen How To Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson and Neil Strauss taken far earlier but luckily for me, I for once OVERestimated to perversion of my peers.

quiet strength said...

The Family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo Jose Cela Conde. It's kind of like The Stranger, but I would argue that it's even better.

N.J.G said...

@ rocco/otto man

i think that one year of english in high school(say 10th grade) should e speant reading all books that are allegorys for political philosophies. atlas shrugged, 1984, brave new world...... so on and so forth.

oh and rocco you picked the wrong ayn rand book atlas shrugged is clearly superior. plus you get the added bonus of destroying any nerd who tries to read the 70 page speech.

Sisto said...

@weber:

Not that anyone follows the rules after the first 10 picks or so.

I gave American Tabloid to a friend of mine who's practically allergic to books and he couldn't put it down, so I'm with you on that one. I haven't read his autobiography yet. I just put it on my list.

N.J.G said...

hitchhikers was the steal of the draft by undead zombie.

how was that left that is probably thebest book i have ever read. (my opinion, i mean in terms of satire)

J said...

Second eagle, Blood Meridian is by far on the best books ever and certainly the best McCarthy

N.J.G said...

oh and the guy who wrote bringing won the house went to my school, he came back and spoke to us and he is kind of a dick.

Weed Against Speed said...

It's a short story, but In the Penal Colony by Kafka is an amazing piece of work.

Slash said...

Ooh... "Serpico," Peter Maas.

Mad that I didn't think to mention "The Godfather" first. Also an excellent book.

quiet strength said...

My last pick: America's Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amar. That ways these little dumbasses can run home and lecture their moms and dads on how much they know about everything while getting their nuts patted on how smart they are. I'm really glad I'm not a high school teacher...

Spud Randall said...

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.

With that title you'd think the book would be pretentious and self-indulging


...and masturbatory and gay, and you'd be right.

Freakonomics, Levitt and Dubner.

Zeitgeist Break said...

post office - charles bukowski

that part where the chick is screaming "rape!", then he actually rapes her. funny AND horrifying.

Rocco said...

I guess I don't read nearly enough. I suppose that's what happens when you're an engineer. At least I have my summer reading list now. I'd like to change my Rand pick to Atlas Shrugged. Zen and the Art is a solid pick as well, damn I should have gone 3rd round with that one. Kurt Vonnegut's story in the April Playboy about WWII and Dresden is great; I have to think he wrote some good stuff.

Nashville Steeler Fan said...

The Stranger/Albert Camus..for reasons only me and Robert Smith will go into
also..Caesar Chavez day a holiday at ksk?

Hercules Rockefeller said...

The Gun Seller - Hugh Laurie.

Yeah, it's House. Good, fun read.

/everything I could think of was already taken.

Timmy D said...

Papillon, Henri Charrière.

This Is The Way The World Ends, James Morrow.

E. Jason said...

What, no Inherit the Wind?

Creationism was wrong then, and wrong now.

Also, FutureMrs? After seeing your picks I think I'm in love. The way to my heart is through my brain.

Mostly cause stuff's misaligned.

shouldBworkin said...

This is more Jr. High reading but let's add some Robert A Heinlein... how 'bout 'The Cat Who Walks Through Walls' ?

Unsilent Majority said...

Wildcat

Because those kids need a heavy dose of obsolete vernacular.

smurphette said...

I wish I could take a Vonnegut book, but since I can't, I'll go with Arcadia by Tom Stoppard (or any Tom Stoppard play, really - Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and The Invention of Love are both tremendous as well). The man is like Oscar Wilde for the 20th/21st century.

Victor Yuschenko said...

"Motherless Brooklyn" is a piece of shit. Feckless '70s yuppie-slumming, gratuitous gay sex, and an overwrought series of superhero vignettes. I give those titties 4 thumbs down.

Hats off to the Houellebecq pick, though.

DougOLis said...

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling - to teach the kids some morals about society

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair - to fuck with those morals and expose them to how things really are

In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust - to completely fuck with the kids; if they can get through it, they are a better person than I

naptown drew said...

@smurphette

As you say- "WORD" on the Vonnegut pick. See folks, not all Naptownians are slack-jawed droolers.

To the rest...great picks everybody. 1984 is one of my all-time favorites and so important right now. In that vein, I choose Brave New World by Huxley. Coming in late, I'm just glad nobody took The Doors of Perception to thwart my pick (Trippin' balls is cool and everything, but just go do it and stop reading the instruction manuals already).

stealofthedraft said...

A propos Laurie and Wilde, Stephen Fry has written some excellent stuff, too. The wonderfully titled autobiography "Moab is My Washpot" is my favorite.

Adam said...

Joining the Draft late, but loving most of the picks (minus Rand and Roth.)

I'll take: "Fathers and Sons" by Turgenev"; "The Death of Ivan Ilych" by Tolstoy and because I'm not above having my mind blown and having fun at the same time anything by Philip K. Dick-- perhaps A Scanner Darkly-- a nice anti-drug book.

Spatula said...

I've resisted until now, but I have to take E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class for three reasons: 1) I'm sick to death of everybody in this country thinking they're all in the middle class (the Whopper Flopper and Bill Gates are actually in the same class?); 2)it's 836 pages written by a British historian; and 3) I am the ueberhistorian. Mwahaha.

Spud Randall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Whisk E. Bear said...

Anybody cover Mailer? The guy was a jerkoff, but The Naked and the Dead is a pretty powerful novel. It's set in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, but reads like it could be a novel of the Vietnam War.

Doesn't really deliver on the nudity, though.

smurphette said...

Since I can't take anything by Conrad, Vonnegut, Twain, or Salinger, and To Kill A Mockingbird and Invisible Man are off the board, I will take Moby Dick (but I'd tell the kids to skip the Cetology chapter).

Spud Randall said...

As much as I hate to waste In the Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco has a book of essays on the art of storytelling called On Literature that would be required if I was teaching a creative writing class.

make it snow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
make it snow said...

Looks like I need to read the rules better. I'll take Bear V Shark by Chris Bachelder.

dick_gozinia said...

I jumped back in later to take either Eggers, Freakonomics, and I really wanted House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski but they've all been taken.

Seems you all have better taste and timing than I thought. And I apologize for cockblocking with Vonnegut, but it was too tempting...especially after Drew grabbed Confederacy of Dunces.

Stupid Gay Mafia.

Mike said...

Pemulis, nicely done for getting my two favorite books, you bastard (the name doesn't hurt, either). Anyway, I'll tack on an (extremely late) pick of Still Life With Woodpecker, because even stupid high school kids can read that, and it will teach them about the joys of blowing shit up and anal sex.