Here are books that seem to persist on my favorites list.
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
This collection of short stories by Wells Tower is mostly about men trying to give their lives a reboot by reconnecting with family, or by proving to themselves that there is still simplicity and beauty in life. Most of the male characters are divorced, and the women they encounter serve as, perhaps not as antagonists, but certainly as catalyst characters who help derail what may be the main character’s final trip down the track to redemption. But this is too simple a treatment of the stories, and the characters are much more complex than that.
Bret Easton Ellis
It is difficult to write a novel in which the narrator is meant to be despised, but not so much so that readers will put the book down and not pick it up again. I put American Psycho down twice and took long breaks from it before I completed it, yet I count it as one of my favorite books. It is not an easy read, and it is not simply the violence that appalls, but the impunity with which it is committed. It offends our sense of justice as we are forced to watch someone so brazenly “get away with it” over and over again. This is one of the major themes of the book. It is about people (the wealthy) who get away with it.
Then We Came to the End
This novel is a study in character development. If any fiction writers (or readers) want to see what fully fleshed-out, characters look like — real human beings with all of human beings’ complexities, but rendered by an artist’s hand — read this.
Ferris’ choice for a setting and a plot is relevant today. For those of us who lived through the late nineties/early aughts boom and bust, be it in advertising, like in this novel, or in IT or in anything else, we know that it was a time of mass delusion.