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Monday Miscellany

The 10 Most Disturbing Books Of All Time

In my younger days if I heard a book or movie was disturbing or hard to handle I generally took that as a challenge. Most books generally turned out to not be too bad, but occasionally I’d come across something that would leave me with a sick feeling in my stomach for weeks. I’ve largely outgrown this “genre” of late, but here are my picks for the ten most disturbing books of all time. Any one of these books is capable of leaving you feeling a little depressed at the least, and permanently scarred at the worst. I’d say enjoy, but that doesn’t really seem appropriate …

So says William, whoever he may be. I’ve only read one of the books on his list, We Need to Talk About Kevin. And I’ve purposely avoided several of the others precisely because of their grim horror.

One book not on this list that I would add is I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, author of The Chocolate War. It’s just a little book, but it’s one of the most chilling that I’ve ever read.

How about you? Have you read many of the books on William’s list? And what others would you add?

Mad Men: the most literary show on TV

James Walton welcomes the return of Mad Men – a television drama with all the ingredients of the Great American Novel.

Walton makes a case for considering Mad Men within the history of the American novel. For example, he compares Dick Whitman, the real person behind Don Draper, to Fitzgerald’s Jimmy Gatz, who becomes the great Jay Gatsby.

From Henry James to Dorothy Parker to Philip Roth, you’ll find lots of American literary greats discussed here. “Yet if there really is a single theme that unites all American literature, it’s surely America itself.”

Library of America to release ‘Little House’ books

Laura Ingalls Wilder, who already holds a special place in the hearts of millions of parents and children, soon will be added to the country’s official literary canon.

The Library of America announced Tuesday that it will issue a boxed two-volume set this fall of Wilder’s “Little House” series, including “Little House on the Prairie” and “Little House in the Big Woods.” Wilder based the books on her family’s experiences as pioneers in the 19th century. She died in 1957 at age 90.

This new collection will reportedly contain “additional pieces by Wilder about the events and the composition of the books.”

The Final Sentence

Here’s an ambitious collection:

 An evergrowing compilation of “final sentences” from every literary work, if we could find them all, that has ever existed.

There are collections of opening sentences, of course, and those seem to serve an inherent purpose. After all, if authors don’t grab readers’ attention with the first sentence, there’s a good chance readers won’t go any further.

But I’m not so sure about the purpose of a collection of final sentences. Yes, a final sentence often sums up the whole work with a bit of a punch. That sentence can be exactly what gives the whole work a feeling of closure and purpose. BUT: the final sentence depends on everything that has come before. Reading over some of the entries here confirmed my suspicion  that it’s impossible to appreciate the craft of a final sentence in the same way that we can appreciate an opening sentence without reading the whole work.

If you want to contribute to cataloging the final sentence of every literary work that has ever existed, you’ll find directions on how to submit an entry here.