Booking Through Thursday: Contemporary Classics


Here is this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?

There are several writers on my shelf who are already knocking on the door of becoming “classic” writers: Cormac McCarthy and Harper Lee come to mind. It’s hard to imagine a time when such an accessible novel as To Kill A Mockingbird won’t be taught in English classes. In some ways it is a perfect novel to study basic literary techniques such as foreshadowing.

The spare prose of McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men is a perfect Hemingway imitation, and his dark vision has fewer exits than Jean Paul Sartre. The darkness visible of his vision seems to sew itself into the nightmarish visions of the bleaker edges of the literary canon.

Another canonical candidate is Ian McEwan. Atonement declares its classic theme in its title.  But personally, I like his novel Amsterdam, which is a sinister piece of black humor.

And if there is a literary canon a century from now, I hope nonfiction isn’t lost. I hope Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas rides blearily along, and Joan Didion’s recent The Year of Magical Thinking is a beautiful meditation on grief. I still can’t get the image out of my mind of Didion’s desire to run the film backwards in the hope of recovering a life before loss.

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