The Fiction Fifty (Plus)


UPDATE: September 5, 2012: I wrote this page in 2009, updated it in August of 2011 when I indicated I had read Maud Casey’s Genealogy, and then let it remain static again. This afternoon, as a break from writing my new novel, Fields of Gold, (Perpetual Light is in advanced draft, cooling in a drawer), I redd off some of the clutter that had accumulated on this surface, dusted everything, and recommitted to reading steadily in this new academic year.)

Heather Sellers, a writer and student of the craft and process of writing, has several titles in the “You can do it!” category of guides for people like me who struggle to stay focused and to keep on keepin’ on though our characters continue to speak in clichés, our descriptions seem overwrought, and we can’t think of any other way to end a story than to say, “And then a miracle happened and they lived happily ever after!” In Chapter After Chapter, she advises that you read 100 books like the one you want to write. “Reading one hundred books can take a whole year,” she cautions. In committing to this year of writing fiction seriously, this year when I will take Perpetual Light, my novel begun in 2002, to an advanced draft, I’ve chosen fifty-odd works of fiction, some classics, some contemporary, some story collections, that I think will, at the very least, keep the cadences and the mood of fiction uppermost in my mind.

The titles are given here in alphabetical order by author. Titles given in bold are those I have read. When I have written a review, the title will be highlighted as a link to the piece. Watch the colors change!

Allison, Will. What You Have Left
Barrett, Andrea. Secret Harmonies
Berg, Elizabeth. Durable Goods
___________. Joy School
___________. Range of Motion
___________. Talk Before Sleep

 ___________. What We Keep
Berne, Suzanne. The Ghost at the Table
Bradford, Richard. Red Sky at Morning
Carlson, Ron. A Kind of Flying (selected stories)
Casey, Maud. Genealogy
Chaon, Dan. Await Your Reply

D’Erasmo, Stacey. Tea
Didion, Joan. A Book of Common Prayer
Durrow, Heidi. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
Faulkner, William. Light in August
_____________. The Sound and the Fury
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
Hayden, Julie. The Lists of the Past. (stories)
Hood, Ann
. The Knitting Circle
Jones, Tayari. Leaving Atlanta
Kagen, Lesley. Whistling in the Dark
Kantor, MacKinlay. Andersonville
Kyle, Aryn. Boys and Girls Like You and Me
________. The God of Animals
Landis, Dylan. Normal People Don’t Live Like This. (linked stories)
Lott, Brett. A Song I Knew By Heart
Lowenthal, Michael. Avoidance
Mallon, Thomas. Henry and Clara
McCullers, Carson. The Member of the Wedding
Mockett, Marie. Picking Bones from Ash
Nelson, Antonya. Nothing Right (stories)
_____________, Family Terrorists (novella and stories)
_____________. Talking In Bed
Noel, Katharine. Halfway House
Rabb, Margo.
Cures for Heartbreak
Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead
________________. Home
Russo, Richard. Empire Falls
Schutt, Christine. Florida
Sebold, Alice, ed. Best American Short Stories 2009 (stories by various authors)
Shields, Carol. The Stone Diaries
Shreve, Porter.
The Obituary Writer
Singer, Katie. The Wholeness of a Broken Heart
Strout, Elizabeth. Olive Kitteridge (connected stories)
Tinti, Hannah. The Good Thief
Tyler, Anne. The Accidental Tourist
_________. The Amateur Marriage
_________. A Slipping Down Life
_________. Back When We Were Grownups
_________. Breathing Lessons
_________. Celestial Navigation
_________. The Clock Winder
_________. If Morning Ever Comes
_________. Ladder of Years
_________. Searching for Caleb
_________. The Tin Can Tree
van den Berg, Laura. What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us. (story collection)
Wood, Patricia. Lottery