Hal Flynn's Fiction Reading List


This is my fiction reading list. The general focus is classical American literature, though I do periodically dabble outside of the genre in more modern canons. The list is in no particular order.

The Catcher in the Rye

This is a story that takes place during a couple days in the life of a boy named Holden Caufield. This book explorers the neurotic before Jerry Seinfield made a feeble attempt at making it look cool.

A Clockwork Orange

This is the story of a boy and his three droogs. Alex and his three friends go about creating all sorts of pandemonium until Alex is caught by the police. The state then reforms him using a "special" treatment. The book ends with him reflecting back on his past, and thinking about his future.

The Old Man and the Sea

This is a tale of Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman. The story revolves around him making the catch of his life.

Cryptonomicon

This is a story tracing a few different families with overlapping histories. The story takes place in the South Pacific, jumping back and forth between the 90's computer boom and WWII.

Snow Crash

This story occurs in the future USA. The story is a cyberpunk thriller that follows character Hiro Protagonist on a journey to stop a religious fanatic from engaging the world in biological/neurological warfare.

"The Red Badge of Courage" and "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets"

This book is a combination of two books, "The Red Badge of Courage" written in 1895, and "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets" written in 1893. The first book tells the story of Henry, a boy from the North United States that enlists in the Union Army during the Civil War. The story is about his experience with battle, his flight from battle, the loss of a friend, and his subsequent return to battle. The second book is a story of Maggie, a girl growing up in a poor Irish tenement in New York. The story describes her life in the tenement with her alcoholic mother and father, the eviction by her mother, and her demise.

Collected Stories of William Faulkner

This book is a compilation of various short stories by William Faulkner. Some of Faulkner's most famous short stories are in this book, including two of my favorites: "A Rose For Emily," and "Dr. Martino." Most of the stories are set in the Mississippi between the early 1800s and just after the First World War. This book is an excellent introduction to William Faulkner's style of writing.

As I Lay Dying

This is the story of the Bundren family and their trials after the mother Addie dies. The story is filled with humor, irony, and tragedy as the family attempts to get her body to its final resting place.

Absalom, Absalom!

This story is the account of Thomas Sutpen in the fictional place of Jefferson, Mississippi. The story chronicals his appearance for the first time in town, his establishing himself, and his attempt at building his dynasty. It explores the Sutpen family, his attempt at creating an heir, and subsequent destruction of the family. It is also an excellent exploration of the South pre and post-Civil War.

Snopes

This book is actually a compilation of three Faulkner novels. The entire book is actually the trilogy of the Snopes clan comprising "The Hamlet," "The Town," and "The Mansion."

The first book tells the story of Flem Snopes in Frenchman's Bend. He becomes a store clerk in the Varner store, marries Eula Varner, and eventually comes to accumulate significant holdings of property in the small town.

The second book is about Flem's move to the town of Jefferson. It describes his time working for the local electricity generation plant, his time working in the bank, his ascension to Presidency of the bank, and his wife's suicide.

The third book describes the marriage of his daughter begot by another man, her trials, the release of his cousin from prison after a twenty year sentence for murder and twenty year sentence for attempting to escape. The book ends with his murder, the leaving of his daughter for New York, and the arrangement with the murdering cousin to continue to pay him a set sum.

The Sound And The Fury

This book chronicles the life of the last generation of the Compson family. It story starts being told from the perspective of the idiot brother Benjamin, then is told from the perspective of Quentin at Harvard before it returns to Mississippi to be told by the one sane brother of the family, Jason. It story goes through the death of the brother Quentin, the running away of the sister Candy, the dumping of her bastard child on the family before her disappearing again, and the brother Jason's money by the bastard daughter Quentin, and her running away.

The Last Of The Mohicans

This is a new binding of the original 1826 text by Cooper. Hawk-Eye, Chingachgook, and Uncas collide with Cora, Alice Duncan, David, and Munro in the forest during the French and Indian war of the 1700s in the Northeastern US and Southeast of Canada. The book follows them through warfare, capture, freedom, cruelty of life and death on the frontier, the fight against Magua, and ultimately the demise of Uncas and Cora. Cooper isn't my style of writing, and the book would be a really rough and boring read were it not for the fact that it's so violent. This edition is a copy of the original prefaced with an introduction by the editor, and succeeded with commentary by three other individuals.

A Farewell To Arms

This is the story of Henry and Catherine during The Great War. The story begins with Henry, an American, serving with his ambulance unit in the Italian Army. He meets Catherine, gets wounded, and spends time in healing where he and Catherine meet again. He returns to war, where his unit suffers massive defeat, and he flees, escaping death from both the German soldiers and those of his own army. Upon escaping from battle, he and Catherine meet up again, and slip into Switzerland, where they stay until she gives birth to a his stillborn son, then herself dies.

For Whom The Bell Tolls

This story takes place in the last three days of the life of Robert Jordan. Jordan is a member of the Communist resistance in Spain during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. Jordan is sent into the hills on a mission to blow up a bridge, taking up with Pablo and his group of guerillas behind fascist lines. He meets Maria there, and they fall in love, quickly developing a close relationship as he struggles to organize the demolition of the bridge with Pablo and other groups in the hills. Jordan manages to blow the bridge, and after a firefight where a number of the participants in the mission are killed, he and the remaining members escape on horseback. He is injured then injured, and he instructs the others to leave him behind. The story ends with him lying in wait, dying, preparing to kill a cavalry officer leading the party that killed an allied guerilla group in the hills the day previous.

Babylon Revisted And Other Stories

This book is a collection of some of the more famous short stories written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Many of the stories hint at his birth in Minnesota, establishing the characters from the Midwest or actually Minnesota itself (Fitzgerald's birthplace). Many of the stories also in some way involve New York post-WWI or during the roaring 20s. My favorites among this collection are Babylon Revisted, May Day, and The Rich Boy.

Babylon Revisted is the story of Charlie Wales, a man who struck it rich in the stock market in the 20s, then lost his fortune to the market, his wife to the grave, himself to the sanitarium for a brief spell because of his own irresponsible habits, and his daughter Honoria to his sister-in-law. The story takes place in Paris.

May Day is a story take takes place in New York City. A group Yale graduates get together for a class reunion, dinner, and party. The story is a circle of characters, and illustrates how they continue to enter and leave one another's lives. A cleverly written story.

The Rich Boy is the story of Anson Hunter, born into a family of enormous wealth. He comes of age at the time of the war, and while in flight training at the air station in Pensacola, Flordia, he meets the love of his life. They have the opportunity to get married, but he hesitates until he loses her. He spends the rest of the story haunted by her until she dies, and he leaves for a holiday in Europe.

Animal Farm and 1984

This book is a combination of both Animal Farm, and 1984.

In Animal Farm, the animals of Manor Farm are motivated by a prophecy of Old Major to arise and overthrow Mr. Jones, then take Manor Farm for themselves. After successfully doing so, simple laws governing the farm are established for the benefit of all animals on the farm, and the pigs become the ruling body. Corruption inevitably enters the ruling body, and the story ends with the animals unable to distinguish the pigs from humans.

In 1984, the Party member Winston Smith's skeptical view eventually matures into a full hatred and dissent against the party. His forbidden affair with Julia florishes until they're both caught by the Thought Police, at which time they are imprisoned, brainwashed, and then re-released into society.

All Quiet on the Western Front

This book is the story of Paul Baumer, a boy of 20 who has enlisted in the German Army of World War I. The book traces his trials and tribulations over two years as he and seven of his classmates join, only to one-by-one die in the trenches near Flanders. During his experience he loses friends, faith, hope, nearly his sanity, and eventually his life. A superb read.

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Last Update: November 11, 2006