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Some favourite books published during my lifetime

Here’s a fairly arbitrary list of modern books that have influenced me or are favourite reads of mine. As with all such lists, the reasons why you’re supposed to find this interesting remain obscure.

America America, Ethan Canin

Atomised, Michel Houellebecq

Austerlitz, W.G. Sebald

Banal Nationalism, Michael Billig

Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy

Burrard Inlet, Tyler Keevil

Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher

The Collected Stories, Lorrie Moore

The Collected Stories, Amy Hempel

Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace

Contre-Jour, Gabriel Josipivici

Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee

Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and other Fraudulent artifacts, David Shields and Matthew Vollmer (eds)

The Fountain at the Centre of the World, Robert Newman

The Frank Bascombe Trilogy, Richard Ford

Free Women of Spain, Martha Ackelsberg

The Gold Bug Variations, Richard Powers

Granny made me an Anarchist, Stuart Christie

Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon**

A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers

HHhH, Laurent Binet

House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski

How Late It Was, How Late, James Kelman

In Country, Bobbie Ann Mason

Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri

Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson

Karl Marx, Francis Wheen

The Kindly Ones, Jonathon Littell

Knockemstiff, Donald Ray Pollock

Lanark: A Life in Four Books, Alasdair Gray

The Lazarus Project, Aleksander Hemon

Leaving the Atocha Station, Ben Lerner

Legend of a Suicide, David Vann

The Mezzanine, Nicholson Baker

The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould

A Painter of our Time, John Berger*

The Pale King, David Foster Wallace

Q, Luther Blissett

The Rabbit Tetralogy, John Updike

Reader’s Block, David Markson

Reflexivity and the Crisis of Western Reason, Barry Sandywell

The Restraint of Beasts, Magnus Mills

The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin

Song of our Swamp Land, Manzu Islam

Suffer and Survive, Martin Goodman

The Ticklish Subject, Slavoj Žižek

Ulverton, Adam Thorpe

Underworld, Don DeLillo

The Unseen, Nanni Balestrini

The View from Castle Rock, Alice Munro

A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan

Waterland, Graham Swift

* Although written in 1958, A Painter of our Time qualifies as it was suppressed almost as soon as it was published, and it was only re-released during my lifetime. A victim of political censorship (its opponents ranged from The Guardian to the CIA), the book is also noteworthy for its eloquent advocation of representational art and its anticipation of post-postmodernist metafiction.

** It’s been pointed out to me that Gravity’s Rainbow was published six years before I was born. True, but it was ahead of its time.

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