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The L.A. Times’ Jacket Copy blog has compiled a list of sixty one essential postmodern reads . While they don’t define exactly what constitutes postmodern literature, they annotate the list with certain attributes: “the author is a character, fiction and reality are blurred, the text includes fictional artifacts, such as letters, lyrics, even whole other books, and so on.”

I’m not much of a fiction aficionado so I’m unfamiliar with most of the works.  Of the ones I’ve read only one is a masterpiece (William Shakespeare’s Hamlet ), a few are quite good (Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis , Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried ), while the rest are a bit overrated (Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter , Art Spiegelman’s Maus I & III , Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five ). All of these, though, would be considered somewhat essential.

But what surprised me most is how many books on the list (fourteen) I’ve started but never finished: Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin , Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 , William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch , Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves , Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius , William Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom! , Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated , Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting , Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire , Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor , Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow , Laurence Stern’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy , David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest , and Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days.

Like economist Tyler Cowen , “I start ten or so books for every one I finish. I don’t mind disliking a book, and I never regret having picked it up and started it. I am ruthless in my discards.” Yet seeing all of these discarded tomes on a list of essential reading makes me wonder if I’m missing something.

Which books on the list should I give a second chance and which are worth starting (and finishing)?  What books should have been included on the list but are inexplicably missing (my primary candidates: Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum (loved it) and Cervantes’ Don Quioxte (bored me to tears)).

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