Tuesday, March 31, 2009


After my recent favorite movies with two-word titles list (but no articles—“the” or “a”—allowed), I thought I’d do one for novels when the garbage truck woke me up last night. If you’re just tuning in, I use these lists to help me get back to sleep and the more restrictions I put on them the harder I have to think, and recall, and the more apt it is to have me snoozing before I finish. The main restriction being they have to be works I dig.

ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy, ABSALOM, ABSALOM! By William Faulkner
BIG SUR by Jack Kerouac
CANNERY ROW by John Steinbeck, CAT’S CRADLE by Kurt Vonnegut
DON QUIXOTE by Cervantes (the original title in Spanish is actually more than two words but this is how it’s been known in English forever), DAVID COPPERFIELD by Charles Dickens, DHARMA BUMS and DESOLATION ANGELS by Jack Kerouac
ETHAN FROME by Edith Wharton
FIRST LOVE by Ivan Turgenev, FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce, FORGETTING ELENA by Edmund White, FROM BONDAGE by Henry Roth (Vol. III from MERCY OF A RUDE STREAM)
INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison, IN THRALL by Jane DeLynn
JUDGMENT DAY by James T. Farrell
KINGSBLOOD ROYAL by Sinclair Lewis (maybe not considered great literature, but what an impact it had on me as a kid in the age of overt and legal racism etc.)
LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad
MADAME BOVARY by Gustave Flaubert, MANSFIELD PARK by Jane Austen, MOBY DICK by Herman Mellville, MALONE DIES by Samuel Beckett, MUMBO JUMBO by Ishmael Reed, MODERN LOVE by Constance De Jong
NATIVE SON by Richard Wright
ORPHEUS EMERGED by Jack Kerouac (his posthumously published early novel, not his best but a great peek into the period of his formation as a writer)
PARADE’S END by Ford Madox Ford (actually a tetralogy, i.e. four novels, combined to make one monstrous one that was one of my all-time favorite reads), PRATER VIOLET by Christopher Isherwood, PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth
ROCK WAGRAM by William Saroyan, REAL ESTATE by Jane DeLynn
SISTER CARRIE by Theordore Dreiser, SUITE FRANCAISE by Irene Nemirovsky, STRANGE FRUIT by Lillian Smith (another novel never considered great literature and not very radical but at the time its racial focus was considered dangerous and subversive and certainly had an impact on my young mind when I discovered it), SNOWBALL’S CHANCE by John Reed (a sequel to ANIMAL FARM for the Bush Junior era)
TRISTAM SHANDY by Laurence Sterne, TRACY’S TIGER by William Saroyan
VANITY FAIR by William Makepeace Thackeray
WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson (actually a collection of stories that is the first one to add up to a novel, with the town as the protagonist), WASHINGTON SQUARE by Henry James, WHITE MULE by William Carlos Williams, WAITING PERIOD by Hubert Selby Jr. (Selby’s last published novel, another dark take on the Bush Junior era—but one only Selby would dare)
YOUNG LONIGAN by James T. Farrell, YESTERDAY’S BURDENS by Robert M. Coates


douglang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toby said...

"Zoo Story?"

No, that's a play only.

Curtis Faville said...

Solo Faces & Light Years by James Salter

Three Soldiers by John Dos Passos

I think the DeLynn title is Unreal Estate

Zuleika Dobson by Beernohm

Bleak House by Dickens

I, Claudius by Graves

Main Street by Lewis

Rabbit, Run by Updike

Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen

The Magus by Fowles

The Natural by Malamud

The Plague by Camus

Brideshead Revisited by Waugh

Black Mischief by Waugh

I could go on, but it seems silly. What's in a title?

Lally said...

Hey Doug, why'd ya remove your comment? I too dug Farrell as a young man, first writer I read who seemed to get the culture I grew up around (and Willard Motley in Nobody Knows My Name).
Yeah Toby, I thought of Zoo Story for "Z"—too bad it's a play.
And Curtis, many on your list I thought of but they aren't among my "favorites"—or they use the article "The" in the title, which I didn't allow in this list to make it a little harder, there's too many two-word titles that begin with "the" or "a."

RJ Eskow said...

Gravity's Rainbow.

Naked Lunch.

David Copperfield.

Les Miserables.

Fahrenheit 451.

Lucky Jim.

Midnight's Children.

The Moviegoer. ("the" is OK as one of the two words, right?)

I'll probably keep obsessing on this for a while ...

Curtis Faville said...