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The Book: The Top Ten

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

Michael Chabon

1. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (1964).
2.Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (1962).
3. Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini (1921).
4. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813).
6. Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe (1836–47).
7. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (1913–27).
8. Paradise Lost by John Milton (1667).
9. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (1985).
10. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953).

Classic List

Michael Cunningham

1. King Lear by William Shakespeare (1605).
2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).
3. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1855–91).
4. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927).
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).
6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
7. Dubliners by James Joyce (1916).
8. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930).
9. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898).
10. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (for their unerring narrative focus) (1925–64).

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