Altered States by Anita Brookner is a excellent novel of the ‘repressed, English, and unreliable’ genre perfected by authors like Kazuo Ishiguro. It follows solicitor Alan Sherwood, his failed marriage, his blended family and the object of his obsession.
Sweet Bird of Youth is a 1959 play by Tennessee Williams. Most of the play takes place in the Royal Palms Hotel, an “old fashioned but still fashionable” hotel in St. Cloud, on the Gulf Coast.
Chance Wayne is first introduced wearing the classic Williams trope; white silk pyjamas. He starts the day with a cigarette and a ‘bromo’; an alka seltzer hangover remedy. The waiter has to mix it for him, due to his hands shaking, due to his alcohol consumption the night before.
An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a beautiful, hazy portrait of life in post war Japan. It explores generational tension, changing social mores, guilt and atonement. It is also another excellent example of the unreliable narrator, a trope of Ishiguro’s work.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is a tale of beauty, race and social ostracism. It takes place in Lorain, Ohio and centres on the destruction of a vulnerable little girl who believes herself to be ugly.
Ragle Gumm is an ordinary man lives with his sister’s family in a sleepy suburban 1950s town. He makes a living by winning a newspaper contest over and over again. He dallies with his neighbour and plots where the Little Green Man will be Next, but starts to realise all is not well. This is how Time out of Joint, by Philip K Dick, begins.
What Remains of Edith Finch is a beautiful, haunting tale exploring the death and tragedy surrounding the Finch family.
Edith has returned to her family’s abandoned home off the coast of the state of Washington following her mother’s death. The tale shows Edith discovering their history through exploration of sealed bedrooms / shrines, all with voyeuristic peepholes.
Suddenly, Last Summer was a 1958 one act play written by Tennesse Williams. The wealthy poet Sebastian Venable has been killed, and the family are gathering to hear his cousin, Catharine Holly, describe his scandalous death. Sebastian’s mother doesn’t believe her niece and has had Catharine committed; an attending doctor, known for performing lobotomies, injects her with a truth serum to get to the bottom of things.
“Suddenly Last Summer” was, perhaps,the most poetic I’ve done. – Tennessee Williams, Interview with Studs Terkel.¹