The time has come to help define Capital “L” Literature, as opposed to your general, everyday lower-case “l” literature. Not that there’s anything wrong with that other stuff, but Capital “L” Literature is the kind of writing that reminds you what it is to be human when you start to forget in this ultra-modern, light-speed world we live in with its technology creeping in at every corner. It’s the kind of writing that makes you understand yourself, your world, your life, or breaks your prejudices and pre-conceived notions, or reminds you in a new way about the old truths, or warns you against the possibilities of the future…
It’s hard to describe exactly what Capital “L” Literature is – it must be different for each reader. However, I’ve begun to compile a list of writings that I believe fall within that category.
When I first started out with this blog entry, I had the ambition of including the complete list within it, including works from all genres and spanning thousands of years and hundreds of languages. Of course, that quickly began to spiral out of control…
I realized the improbability of ever being able to complete such a list, so instead I’ve limited this post to the seventeen contemporary (in this case read “post-World War II”) novels (as opposed to poetry collections, short story collections, essay collections, plays, memoirs, manifestos, unclassifiable writings, etc.) that most immediately came into my mind and that I feel are important Literary works.
What follows is in no particular order of preference or importance. It’s simply seventeen novels that have influenced me as both an aficionado and an artist, and that I feel define Capital “L” Literature. I’m certain I’m missing many, many more…
Read these books!
- Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
- The Road – Cormac McCarthy
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
- On the Road – Jack Kerouac
- Neuromancer – William Gibson
- This is Where We Meet – John Berger
- House of Splendid Isolation – Edna O’Brien
- American Gods – Neil Gaiman
- Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
- The Stone Raft – José Saramago
- Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climes – Tom Robbins
- Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami
- The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
- Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
- Mother Night – Kurt Vonnegut
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
- Kiss of the Spider Woman – Manuel Puig