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  • Melissa Albert 1:34 pm on 2015/06/15 Permalink
    Tags: 1950s, , , , , , , , , , the catcher in the rye   

    Big Books from the 1950s 

    The 1950s saw the emergence of literary lights including J.D. Salinger and Jack Kerouac, authors whose books questioned the status quo and the midcentury preoccupation with conformity. The decade’s best books were mired in the dark realities of recent history, and looked forward to seismic social shifts to come. Novelists explored cultural norms through timeless dystopic visions, and one of fantasy literature’s most enduring series was launched. These are some of the decade’s most indispensable books.

    The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    Considered the ur-coming of age novel of the modern era, Catcher is a book that grows with you. A bleakly comic first-person cri de couer, it follows recently expelled prep student Holden Caulfield on an aimless ramble around New York City, through run-ins with former friends, a visit to the Central Park ducks, and his return to his parents’ luxe apartment, exploring his aching, barely submerged desire to reclaim the innocence of childhood.

    Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
    This often-banned book is a love story, a paean to 1950s Americana, a breathtaking portrait of a sociopath, and the most memorable road-trip book you’ll ever read. When European academic Humbert Humbert first lays eyes on Lolita, he’s a rootless wanderer with movie-star looks—and she’s a 12-year-old “nymphet,” the daughter of Humbert’s faded maneater of a landlady. He marries the mother to get to the girl, and a twisted tale of obsession begins. After mom is dispatched, Humbert and his Lolita cross the country together, on a soda-pop-and-comics–fueled trip to keep them a step ahead of anyone who might suspect the true nature of their relationship. Lolita’s fate inspires pity and horror, as Nabokov’s sublime prose inspires awe, journeying toward a dark end for his pedophile protagonist that’s intimated in the book’s first pages. In the words of Humbert Humbert, “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.”

    East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
    Steinbeck’s California epic is Biblical in its proportions as well as its themes, recalling both Cain and Abel and the snake in the Garden. Brothers Charles and Adam Trask, one viciously violent and the other a sensitive seeker, play out their roles as Cain and Abel, complicated by the arrival of a psychopathic cipher of a woman who becomes the mother to Adam’s own two sons. Elsewhere in their Salinas Valley home, silver-tongued Irish patriarch Samuel Hamilton raises a clan with his dour wife, intersecting with the Trasks and representing one stripe of American ingenuity and self-made success. This multigenerational epic brims with landscape poetry and sensitive character studies, and explores the endlessly resilient properties of the human spirit.

    On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
    Kerouac’s Beat masterpiece defined a certain kind of American seeker, one who rejected societal norms and struck out for an unencumbered life. And the fact that Kerouac lived this life himself, and loosely based his books on his own experiences, have only made them more appealing. His fictional alter ego Sal Paradise criss-crosses the country with a pack full of sandwiches and, often, with companion Dean Moriarty, a thinly veiled Neal Cassady. They seek out “the mad ones…mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved,” chasing down the transient highs of new experience and an unfettered existence. Kerouac famously claimed to have written the book in three coffee-fueled weeks, and more than 50 years later, his novel still sings with youthful immediacy.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    In Golding’s chilling masterwork, a group of boys wash up on a deserted island after a shipwreck. The boys create a microcosmic society, one that rapidly breaks down as their middle-class manners decay. A survival-of-the-fittest free-for-all ensues. The battle for the souls of every boy on the island boils down to a showdown between prime antagonist Jack, a violent alpha who believes might equals right, and Ralph, a sensitive boy who desperately fights against the descent into tribal chaos. The novel can be read as an allegory or an indictment of mindless conformity, or as the scariest, most mesmerizing beach book you’ll ever pick up.

    Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
    Ellison’s bleak and bracing portrayal of the politicization of a young African American man stands among literature’s most powerful indictments of American racism. Over the course of the narrative, Ellison’s unnamed protagonist is transformed from an ambitious academic, enduring humiliation to secure a scholarship at an elite black college, to a political firebrand working for an interracial organization called the Brotherhood, to the titular “invisible man,” hiding in one of New York City’s forgotten corners in order to write his story. The book argues that the honoring of selfhood, even over community, is the most powerful political statement an oppressed individual can make.

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote
    Holly Golightly, the quicksilver heroine of Capote’s indispensable New York novella, has come to serve as shorthand for a certain kind of woman—a proto manic pixie dream girl given a second, equally timeless, life onscreen by Audrey Hepburn. The novel is narrated by a writer who meets Holly after she moves into his building. She’s a completely self-made construction, a penniless farm girl who forms herself into a knowing member of café society, living on the money she gets from the rich men who adore her. It’s a wistful story of missed connections, hard-lost naiveté, and a bygone world where beautiful women were given money to go to the powder room.

    Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
    Bradbury’s dystopian classic still has the power to strike fear in the heart of readers. It imagines a world in which human life is cheap, television is king, and books are illegal and subject to burning. When our protagonist, fireman and career book burner Guy Montag, meets a young woman who piques his curiosity about the world as it was before, he starts taking risks to save books from the flames, and finds himself on the run. This is a cautionary tale about the evils of censorship, conformity, and anti-intellectualism, published at a time when many Americans were enjoying their first television set.

    Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak
    Pasternak’s controversial, Nobel Prize-winning bestseller went unpublished in his home country of Russia for 30 years after its 1957 release, and Pasternak was blocked by the Soviet government from receiving the Nobel prize during his lifetime. The novel follows Dr. Yury Zhivago through the years of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, as he struggles to choose between his wife and Lara, the captivating wife of another man, whom he seems fated to keep meeting. Their doomed love story spans years and multiple separations, serving as a melancholy throughline of a tale encompassing a turbulent chapter of modern Russian history.

    The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
    J.R.R. Tolkien’s three-volume masterwork, starting with this 1954 novel, introduced into popular culture perhaps the most meticulously created fantasy world in literature. Complete with maps, languages, and a deep sense of its own invented history, Tolkien’s story captures the journey to destroy a dangerous ring undertaken by a quartet of hobbits, the wizard Gandalf, and others. Its settings ranges from the village of Hobbiton to the elflands to the peaks of Mordor, and its indelible characters have become an indestructible part not just of fantasy fiction but of the pop-culture landscape.

    Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
    Metalious’s scandalous, often vicious account of small-town secrets, dissatisfactions, and hypocrisies inspired both a film and a soap opera that ran from 1964 to 1969. The placid exterior of the fictional Peyton Place, New Hampshire, hides a morass of societal ills, explored largely through three women: unmarried mother Constance Mackenzie; her daughter, Allison; and Selena Cross, a girl saddled with poverty and a sexually violent stepfather. In an era when keeping up appearances ruled, this book’s exploration of the darkness lurking behind even the most brightly painted doors ignited readers’ imaginations.

    Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
    Rand’s controversial bestseller, both revered and reviled, is not just a narrative, but the distillation of her closely held political and moral beliefs. Against the backdrop of a dystopian U.S., railroad vice president Dagny Taggart navigates threats to her company and the compromised expectations of family and friends. When fellow business leaders start disappearing, the mystery leads Taggart and her lover, industrialist Hank Rearden, to John Galt, a man determined to bring down the government through a business strike. Galt serves as a mouthpiece for Rand’s Objectivist beliefs.

    From Here to Eternity, by James Jones
    The first of James Jones’ trio of World War II novels, followed by 1962’s The Thin Red Line and 1978’s Whistle, From Here to Eternity won the National Book Award and was made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Frank Sinatra. It centers on three soldiers stationed in Hawaii in the warm months of 1941, as they brawl and haze and betray each other, attempt to assert their individual will, and discover what happens to the nail that stands up.

    A Good Man Is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor
    O’Connor’s stories, like life, are “nasty, brutish and short,” populated with tricksters, ciphers, and benighted people born into small destinies they’re unable to escape. Her stories are also darkly funny and addictively readable, each a window onto the small tragedies and even smaller minds of farm folk, drifters, and opportunists in the heartland.

    Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
    This wildly popular bestseller, written by an acclaimed author also known as the wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh, is an essayistic exploration of the joys of solitude, marriage and love, growing old, and Morrow Lindbergh’s own experiences as a woman of the era. It’s a book meant to nurture readers’ souls, full of wisdom that rings true more than a half century later.

    The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale
    This is the book that launched a thousand imitators. Another inspirational text that has stood the test of time, Peale’s self-help classic has a simple but timeless message of positivity, grace under pressure, and treating yourself with kindness. The rewards his methods promise include easing of worry and the realization of goals—and with millions of copies sold, who can argue with its enduring power?

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  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2015/05/11 Permalink
    Tags: , forgive me leonard peacock, , , , , missing parents, , , the catcher in the rye, , , ,   

    6 Books in Which the Parents are MIA 

    Parents complicate things. They force you to change clothes, insist you come home before curfew, and demand to meet the people you’re heading out with for the evening. In other words, it’s hard to have adventures, fight crime, start a revolution against a dystopian government, or go on a killing spree when your parents are involved.

    And writers know this, which is why they frequently delete parents from stories that involve characters who are really too young to be gallivanting about falling in love, blowing things up, or discovering they’re The One destined to save the universe. The fact is, many novels with young main characters have either missing or absent parents, or parental characters who are so ineffective they might as well not be there in the first place. Here are six novels proving that when it comes to stories about kids, parents just get in the way.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    While it isn’t the first novel about kids to feature no parents, it is the most horrifying, as it takes the concept to its most extreme conclusion. This book’s entire world is devoid of adult influence after a shipwreck in which the only survivors are kids, who find themselves on a deserted, uncharted island. That the children quickly devolve into savages, their existence defined by violence, bullying, and other terrifying behavior, is likely no surprise to anyone who has ever been to a children’s birthday party, and this classic remains the gold standard when it comes to stories about a world free of adult influence.

    Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    The original modern story of a teenager who has agency because his parents are nowhere to be found, Salinger’s classic novel creates the template followed by so many modern novels about kids: teenage protagonist simply ignores the existence of his parents and heads off into the evening to have an adventure. Writers have been using this template ever since, to varying degrees of success, to explore what happens when a kid tries to live an adult life without the requisite experience and emotional maturity. For Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, the experience leads to a breakdown and institutionalization, but even in subsequent novels where kids head out into the evening without parental supervision and manage to survive (and even thrive), the key remains locking the parents up somewhere for the duration.

    The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
    Absent parents aren’t just a feature of gloomy stories involving emotional breakdowns, savage children, and a bleak worldview. In modern times even the most successful novels in the world have found it necessary to delete some parents. While there are parents (and parental figures) in Harry Potter, most of the adventures focus on main characters Harry, Hermione, and Ron acting on their own. If Harry’s parents were alive, or if Hermione’s weren’t Muggles, the struggle against Voldemort would likely fall to them instead of their kids. In order for Harry and his friends to be the center of the story, the adults have to be useless—or altogether missing.

    The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    In modern times, parents are often not only absent, but also somewhat villainous. At first glance you might be tempted to point out that Mrs. Everdeen is certainly present in Collins’ incredibly popular novels. Mr. Everdeen isn’t, but Katniss’ mother plays a role throughout the trilogy. It’s a tiny role, however, and in the first installment it’s made very clear Mrs. Everdeen is not the most effective or present parent in the world. In fact, she’s so useless Katniss is the one who holds the Everdeen family together, at least until she offers herself as Tribute and plunges into a world where the adults are only present outside the arena, pulling strings and setting traps the children must navigate alone.

    The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
    Even Pulitzer Prize–winning literary novels often find it necessary to delete parents in order to give their young main characters enough agency to navigate their stories. In The Goldfinch Donna Tartt uses Theo’s mother’s death as the instigating incident that sets his whole life in motion, and later makes his father such an absentee parent Theo actually has more adult supervision and influence after his father’s death. The middle section of the novel is set in an adult-free bubble in Las Vegas that feels almost dystopian in its complete lack of parental figures, allowing Tartt the space to let Theo define himself, for good and ill.

    Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, by Matthew Quick
    Sometimes absent parents are simply plot necessities. Matthew Quick’s 2013 novel about a boy who brings a gun to school intending to kill himself and his former best friend is powerful and riveting owing to Quick’s mastery of Leonard’s voice. A troubled mind, Leonard restlessly loops through his reasoning as he delivers presents to the few people he respects and makes his way through what he expects to be his final day, deserted by his burnout father and barely remembered by his self-obsessed mother. With just one parent paying attention, the tragedy of Leonard’s life might have been avoided or at least reduced—but that would have made for a very different, and likely much shorter, novel.

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  • Caitlin Luetger 7:00 pm on 2015/05/06 Permalink
    Tags: classic books, , , , the catcher in the rye,   

    5 Classic Books You Need To Reread After High School 

    So many of the books we read in high school get an undeservedly bad rap. It’s not that they’re boring stories or poorly written, but the fact that they were assigned reading that made them unappealing. (“Ew, homework.”) Maybe you didn’t understand the stories at the time but painstakingly made your way through them—or maybe you just skimmed the SparkNotes. Either way, it’s time to give these five must-read classics a second chance.

    The Great Gatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgerald
    As a high school sophomore, you may have been tantalized by the flashy parties and c’est la vie attitude the characters had toward day drinking and adulterous relationships. Yearning for the Gatsby lifestyle, you probably decided that one day you’d move to New York City, impress your true love with your finest silk shirt collection, and spend every night hosting lavish parties. Now that you’re older and have spent some time in the real world, you’ll be amazed at how differently the story reads. While the love triangles and glitz may have been enough to entertain your teenage self, your adult self will probably be a little bit more interested in exploring the cracked morality and rigid social hierarchies your English teacher was always rambling on about in class.

    The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    The biggest complaint against The Scarlet Letter tends to be its stiff Victorian style—though the drama (OH THE DRAMA) between Hester Pryn, Roger Chillingworth, and Arthur Dimmesdale may have intrigued you enough to soldier through. Who can resist such an unfortunate love triangle? As an adult, you’re more likely to be taken by the terrifying differences and even-more-terrifying similarities between the way women’s sexuality was treated then, and the way it’s treated in contemporary society. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of having made it through a Victorian novel as a grownup!

    Of Mice and Men, by George Steinbeck
    Another story of the American Dream may that not have intrigued you as a teen, though the deep and caring relationships between the main characters may have impacted the way you viewed friendships—and George’s predicament surely moved you. As an adult you’ll have an even deeper understanding of the major themes, centered on relationships and the loss of life and dreams, likely having experienced something similar (though hopefully far less tragic) in your own adult life. And as with The Scarlet Letter, you’ll likely spend a little more time questioning the representation of women in historical literature.

    To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Whether you grew up in a small southern town or a northern metropolitan area, you probably related to and empathized with Scout’s dislike for school. And while you might not have fully grasped the severe implications of Tom Robinson’s case, you admired the kindhearted nature and good will of Atticus Finch. You may have even enjoyed the story, despite it being a required read. So why should you reread To Kill a Mockingbird? For starters, everything about this book is relevant in 2015, a year marked by ongoing discussions of race and rape culture. And not only will revisiting this story make you fall in love with Atticus Finch all over again, it will get you ready for sequel Go Set a Watchman, which will be hitting shelves later this year.

    The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    Reading a coming-of-age story as a teen makes a lot of sense. Regardless of your own experiences, you probably identified and sympathized with Holden Caulfield. You were misunderstood, too, and making your way toward an uncertain future! His story helps you put your own life into perspective, and allowed you to satisfyingly dismiss other people as being boring, insecure, and phony. But now that you’ve reached that future age toward which you were once so apathetic, the way you view Mr. Caulfield may come as a bit of a shock. While you’ve grown up, matured, and accepted responsibility in life, he’s stayed constant in his refusal to grow up. But coming-of-age stories at any age force you to reassess your own path and reflect on where you’ve come from versus where you’re headed. And that’s why we’ll always need Holden.

    What was your favorite required read from high school? 

     
  • Ginni Chen 3:00 pm on 2014/12/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , bah humbug!, , , , , , grinches, , , holden caufield, , , , the catcher in the rye, ,   

    The 8 Grinchiest Characters in Literature 

    collageThe holidays usually bring out the best in people, but every so often you witness the worst. That woman who had a tantrum in the checkout line? The parents fighting over the last toy on the shelf? In most cases, it’s nothing a steaming cup of cocoa can’t fix. But once in a while, you just might encounter a misanthrope of epic proportions. Someone who kills the holiday buzz, ruins the magic, and curdles the eggnog—a real-life Grinch. Literature has shown us that Grinches have always been around, but we still shouldn’t let them ruin your holiday cheer. (That’s exactly what they want for Christmas.) Here are some Grinches to watch out for.

    The Grinch (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss)
    The one, the only, the original holiday villain himself: the Grinch. His name has become synonymous with all the grouches who make the holidays less merry. It takes an evil soul to put so much time and effort into destroying the happiness of an entire community of people. (Or Whos.)

    Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens)
    We might call misers and meanies “Scrooges,” but this cold-hearted character actually grows into a generous, kind old man by the end of Dickens’ novel. Bumping into four ghosts in the course of one night seems to have a positive effect on old Ebenezer. By the end of the book, his catchphrase, “Bah, humbug!” is as much a part of Christmas tradition as Santa’s “Ho ho ho!”

    Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis)
    This list just got a little bit grim with the inclusion of the ultimate hater, Patrick Bateman. At once schmoozy, pompous, and uncouth, Bateman is the worst Christmas party guest ever. He forces his girlfriend to ditch her own party before the hired “elves” sing carols, drags her to club called Chernobyl to indulge in some “expensive Christmas frost,” and gets into a drug-addled altercation in the restroom stall. Oh, right, and he’s also a sadistic serial killer.

    The Dursleys (The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling)
    This pair is guilty of doubling up on Grinchyness to make the holidays horrible throughout Harry Potter’s childhood. In Harry’s pre-Hogwarts years, he receives a box of dog biscuits at Christmas. In later years, he receives a toothpick, a fifty-pence piece, and a single tissue from his aunt and uncle. Leave it to the Dursleys to turn the generous tradition of gift-giving into a passive-aggressive way of saying, we hate you.

    Aunt Alexandra and Francis Hancock (To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee)
    Nothing ruins Christmas like racist relatives, something Scout Finch knows all too well. Scout’s strict, snobbish Aunt Alexandra finds fault with Scout’s tomboyishness at every opportunity, and her spoiled tattletale of a grandson, Francis Hancock, is even worse. When visiting the family for Christmas at Finch’s Landing, Francis insults Atticus with a bigoted slur. Scout fights back, but their Uncle Jack catches them. Francis lies his way out of it, and it’s Scout that gets an undeserved spanking. If you think kids can’t be miserable little Grinches, Francis Hancock will make you think again.

    Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger)
    We all know angsty teenagers can be the biggest killjoys, and that’s never been more true than with Holden Caulfield. Kicked out of his boarding school just before Christmas break, Holden heads to New York City and spends the holiday season wallowing in disillusion. He means well, and okay, he’s not a bad guy, but he could really suck the joy out of your holiday festivities.

    The White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis)
    This ice queen curses Narnia so that it’s always winter but never Christmas. That’s about the Grinchiest thing one can do as the tyrannical ruler of a magical land. This villainess also lures in children with Turkish delights and makes them betray their siblings, which goes against two of the most important aspects of the holidays: family and love. Thanks for the Turkish delights, though!

    The Murderer (Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie)
    What kind of person murders someone at Christmas time, in a house full of his family members? We won’t spoil it by telling you who the culprit is, but when you find out you’ll agree he or she is an awfully gruesome Grinch for sure. Everyone’s in an uproar because they’re stuck in a house with a murderer, and it really puts a damper on the seasonal festivities. Don’t people know the holidays are a terrible time for homicide?

    Which of these Grinchy characters is THE WORST?

     
  • John Bardinelli 5:15 pm on 2014/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: , one-hit wonders, , the catcher in the rye, the leopard, , ,   

    5 Authors Who Only Wrote One Novel 

    the-catcher-in-the-rye-cover-56ad87b65e91ecee30641f4d60fda347It’s easy to write something bad and then never look at it again. Thousands of people did it just last month—it’s called NaNoWriMo. But to write an acclaimed, world-changing novel and then put down your pen forever? That takes a special kind of writer.

    The 5 authors below became famous after publishing a single novel. Some of them toiled away on short stories or novellas before and after their big release, but after that one big book, they called it quits as novelists, destined to remain one-hit wonders of the literary world.

    The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
    The Sicilian-born Lampedusa was a man who preferred solitude over the company of others. His sister died of diphtheria at a young age, leaving him an only child with a cold and detached father. He joined the army when he was older and ended up fighting in World War I, eventually landing in a POW camp. After his escape he returned to Sicily to study foreign literature, get married, travel with his mother, and become an otherwise ordinary human being.

    It wasn’t until he was in his late 50s that Lampedusa finished writing The Leopard, a novel that chronicled the changes in Sicilian life during Italian unification. He submitted it to two publishers but was rejected both times. A year later he was diagnosed with lung cancer, a disease that took his life in the summer of 1957. The Leopard finally saw the light of day almost a year after Lampedusa’s death. It quickly became the best-selling novel in Italian history and is still considered one of the most important works of modern literature, but its posthumous publication means we’ll never know if Lampedusa could have written anything half as good again.

    Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
    Gregory David Roberts has led an interesting life. The Australian author is a convicted bank robber, a prison escapee, and a former heroin addict. After his marriage ended and he lost custody of his daughter, he became something of a white collar criminal who only robbed institutions that had adequate insurance. He even wore a suit and said “please” and “thank you” when pulling off a heist. Something of a Robin Hood figure, perhaps, if Robin Hood used the money he stole to buy drugs.

    After serving his prison sentence, Roberts finished writing Shantaram, a novel set in Mumbai that’s partially based on his own life. The book was released in 2003 and has been praised for its deep characterization and vivid depiction of the lives and peoples of India. It is actually the second in a planned series of four, but none of the other pieces of the quartet have been seen, despite publication dates being announced on several occasions.

    Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
    Maybe you don’t know her name, but you definitely know her book. Gone with the Wind was first published in 1936 and sold for the high price of $3, or about $51 in today’s money. By the end of the year it would sell nearly a million copies and receive praise from critics left and right. Mitchell went on to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the next year. As of 2010, over 30 million copies of Gone with the Wind have been printed around the world. So, yeah, Mitchell definitely wrote something worth reading.

    Here’s the sweetest part of the story: Mitchell refused to write a sequel to Gone with the Wind, and she wanted no part in the movie adaptation, either. When you do things right you do them right, you know? Her estate eventually authorized two sequels after her death, Scarlett and Rhett Butler’s People, but naturally they didn’t make a splash anywhere as large as the original.

    To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Harper Lee always had a strong interest in English literature. During her college years she wrote a number of short stories and eventually secured in agent in 1956. Her very next piece was the original manuscript for To Kill a Mockingbird. It read more like a collection of stories than a unified narrative, so for the next two and a half years she worked with an editor to turn it into the novel we still write book reports about today.

    Lee is notoriously reclusive and declines nearly every interview and speech request that comes her way. Many suspect she’s secretly working on another book, which is possibly the least dramatic but most tantalizing conspiracy theory I’ve heard in months. After To Kill a Mockingbird’s release, Lee was reported to have started writing a second book, The Long Goodbye. She eventually shelved it for unknown reasons. Then, Lee started on a non-fiction book about a serial murderer in Alabama, but that, too, was filed away.

    Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    Salinger threatens to break the “one book” rule simply because he wrote so much during his life. Prior to the 1951 release of Catcher in the Rye, he published nearly two dozen short stories in various publications, including The New Yorker. When his controversial novel hit the shelves, he suddenly found himself the subject of public scrutiny and dialed back his writing, only releasing a handful of stories over the next few years. A number of his short stories, novellas and story collections are still read today, but nothing he wrote ever eclipsed Catcher. 

    What’s your favorite one-hit literary wonder?

     
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