Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most. [Penguin Random House]
These Pulitzer Prize-winning stories represent the major short works of fiction by one of the most distinctively American stylists of her day. Jean Stafford communicates the small details of loneliness and connection, the search for freedom and the desire to belong, that not only illuminate whole lives but also convey with an elegant economy of words the sense of the place and time in which her protagonists find themselves. This volume also includes the acclaimed story “An Influx of Poets,” which has never before appeared in book form. [via Macmillan]
Leonard Michaels (January 2, 1933 – May 10, 2003) was an American writer of short stories, novels, and essays. He was born in New York City to Jewish parents; his father was born in Poland. He went to college and earned his B.A. from New York University and went on to acquire an M.A. as well as a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Michigan, before spending most of his adult life in Berkeley, California.
Going Places, his first book of short stories, made his reputation as one of the most brilliant of that era’s fiction writers; the stories are urban, funny, and written in a private, hectic diction that gives them a remarkable edge. The follow-up, coming six years later (Michaels was perhaps not prolific enough to build a widely popular career), was I Would Have Saved Them If I Could, a collection as strong as the first.
Fat City is a vivid novel of allegiance and defeat, of the potent promise of the good life and the desperation and drink that waylay those whom it eludes. Stockton, California, is the setting: the Lido Gym, the Hotel Coma, Main Street lunchrooms and dingy bars, days like long twilights in houses obscured by untrimmed shrubs and black walnut trees. When two men meet in the ring—the retired boxer Billy Tully and the newcomer Ernie Munger—their brief bout sets into motion their hidden fates, initiating young Munger into the company of men and luring Tully back into training. In a dispassionate and composed voice, Leonard Gardner narrates their swings of fortune, and the stubborn optimism of their manager, Ruben Luna, as he watches the most promising boys one by one succumb to some undefined weakness; still, “There was always someone who wanted to fight.” [via NYRB]
Joyce Carol Oates’s Wonderland Quartet comprises four remarkable novels that explore social class in America and the inner lives of young Americans. As powerful and relevant today as it on its initial publication,them chronicles the tumultuous lives of a family living on the edge of ruin in the Detroit slums, from the 1930s to the 1967 race riots. Praised by The Nation for her “potent, life-gripping imagination,” Oates traces the aspirations and struggles of Loretta Wendall, a dreamy young mother who is filled with regret by the age of sixteen, and the subsequent destinies of her children, Maureen and Jules, who must fight to survive in a world of violence and danger.
Them is the third novel in the Wonderland Quartet. The books that complete this acclaimed series, A Garden of Earthly Delights, Expensive People, and Wonderland, are also available from the Modern Library. [via Penguin Random House]