Books Fiction: Five masterpieces of contemporary fiction

Books Fiction: Five masterpieces of contemporary fiction recommended by Lee Polevoi.

Resuscitation of a Hanged Man by Denis Johnson


This book tells the story of a failed suicide’s recovery via gigs as a disc jockey and private investigator in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and his love affair with an on-again, off-again lesbian. Leonard English is staggering through his life in a dreamy world of New England coastal fog and the dense undergrowth of his own feverish imagination. He’s a walking poster boy for the “unreliable narrator,” though in Resuscitation of a Hanged Man, this is a considerable artistic achievement. By the end of the novel we understand him deeply as one who’s terrifically confused about what others say or mean or intend to do.

Fiction Books - Resuscitation of a Hanged Man by Denis Johnson

Outerbridge Reach by Robert Stone


This is a classic seafaring work of fiction, though much also takes place on land—the Eastern Seaboard, specifically. Owen Browne, Stone’s erstwhile protagonist, embarks on a solo sailboat journey around the world and falls prey to maritime dementia. It’s an absolutely riveting and harrowing novel.

Fiction Books -

Going Native by Stephen Wright


Wright’s trail-breaking book traces the journey of a serial killer, appearing in a range of settings and as a variety of differently named—and highly volatile—characters. What happens in each chapter isn’t always clear, but the dense, textured prose is always compelling and rewarding.

Fiction Books - Going Native by Stephen Wright


The Information by Martin Amis


A book about literary envy, written by a master stylist of fiction. Failed novelist Richard Tull deeply despises the success of his old friend Gwyn Barry, whose wildly successful novels belie a vacuum of talent and bottomless narcissism. Richard’s various schemes of revenge, as depicted in Amis’ tangled, skewed and always surprising sentences, are alternately hilarious and revealing.

Fiction Books - The Information by Martin Amis

Libra, Don DeLillo


Throughout DeLillo’s career, his work has been marked by a prescient feel for the paranoia of modern life. If the assassination of John F. Kennedy—and the ensuing maelstrom of conspiracy theories—hadn’t already occurred, DeLillo would have invented them. As it is, his dramatic “re-enactment” of Lee Harvey Oswald’s troubled journey from loner to pawn of government conspirators is completely plausible and gripping.

Fiction Books - Libra, Don DeLillo