David Foster Wallace's Top Ten List

D.T. Max is receiving warm reviews for his biography of Top Ten contributor David Foster Wallace, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story.

New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani avers: “What Mr. Max’s book does do — and does powerfully — is provide an emotionally detailed portrait of the artist as a young man: conflicted, self-conscious and deeply thoughtful, like so many of his characters a seeker after an understanding of his own place in the world and a Melvillian “isolato,” yearning for connection yet stymied by the whirring of his own brain and the discontinuities of an America reeling from information overload.”

If we could add one thing to Max’s work, it would be, of course, David’s delightfully provocative Top Ten List.

David Foster Wallace’s Top Ten List

1. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis (1942).

2. The Stand by Stephen King (1978).

3. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris (1981).

4. The Thin Red Line by James Jones (1962).

5. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973).

6. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988).

7. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein (1961).

8. Fuzz by Ed McBain (1968).

9. Alligator by Shelley Katz (1977).

10. The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy (1991). 

New List

Jonathan Franzen

1. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880).
2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1869).
3. The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925).
4. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (1913–27).
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).
6. Absalom, Abalom! by William Faulkner (1936).
7. The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal (1839).
8. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
9. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead (1940).
10. Independent People by Halldór Laxness (1934).


Classic List

Mary Gaitskill

1. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).
2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
3. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (1962).
4. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853).
5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).
6. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927).
7. Gusev by Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).
8. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1904).
9. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842).
10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1831).

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