Who better to recommend your next read than Wallace himself? Take a look at his syllabi here (via the Harry Ransom Center) and here (via Salon). And if you enjoyed reading IJ, I’d highly recommend reading some of his other books. A full list appears here, but I’d especially recommend his novel The Broom of the System, his story collection Girl with Curious Hair, and his essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.
In addition, here are some of my favorite books by contemporary writers. Like Wallace, I’d consider each of these writers groundbreaking and edgy.
- Speedboat, by Renata Adler
- The Dead Father, by Donald Barthelme
- U.S.!, by Chris Bachelder
- If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvino
- The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
- The Age of Wire and String, by Ben Marcus
- One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell
- Vacation, by Deb Olin Unferth
- Sixty Stories, by Donald Barthelme
- The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, by Aimee Bender
- Jesus’ Son, by Denis Johnson. This is one of the books that made me want to be a writer.
- Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link
- Birds of America, by Lorrie Moore
- George Saunders is one of my heroes. I’d recommend any of his books, but my favorites are Civilwarland in Bad Decline and In Persuasion Nation.
- Vicky Swanky is a Beauty, by Diane Williams
- Sad Little Breathing Machine, by Matthea Harvey
- Scary No Scary, by Zachary Schomburg
Contemporary Aesthetic Collectives
- I’m an avid fan of the writers of the Beat Generation – Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, Diane di Prima, Hettie Jones, Richard Brautigan and others.
- At our walk on 4/26/15 I was mentioning the writers of the Oulipo (Ouvroir de litterature potentiale) – this includes Italo Calvino, Georges Perec and Raymond Queneau.
- As we discussed in class, Wallace was intrigued by several writers working in the 1960s and onward who are generally classified as postmodern – they’d include the writers Thomas Pynchon, Donald Barthelme, David Markson.
Please check back – I’ll continue to add writers to this list!