Books and Writers

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Cult Novels

Herman Hesse : Steppenwolf
[Spiritually bankrupt, Harry Heller embarks on a relationship that shows him a world of
drugs, sex and jazz]

Henry Miller : Tropic of Cancer
(banned un UK until 1965)
[Autobiographical atle of how Miller gave up the easy life and discovered his soul
through prostitutes, Poverty and booze]

Jean Paul Sartre : Nausea
(first English trans 1949)
[The diary of an existentialist who moves round Paris wondering is the civilized world is a
joke, or he is ajoke]

Albert Camus : The Outsider
[A short tale of alienation in Algeria]

Simone de Beauvoir : The Second Sex
[Blueprint for mid-century feminism]
Franz Kafka : Metemorphosis & other stories
(first trans 1949)
[Urban paranoia explored through the eyes of a man who turns into an insect]

Mervyn Peake : Gormenghast
[Occult classic in which the central character is the Castle]

J D Salinger : The Catcher in the Rye
[Rich New York schoolboy hates school and people in general]

Aldous Huxley : The Doors of Perception
[A learned essay that makes chewing peyote cactus an intellectual experience that frees the mind]

Jack Kerouac : On the Road
[Beatnik groupies and soul-searching through groovy parties, jazz, Mexican whorehouses, etc]

William Burroughs : Naked Lunch
[Money, drugs and rent boys collide. Eight different types of fantasy in the sun]
Colin MacInnes : Absolute Beginners
[Coffee bars, scooters, jazz in hot summer of the late 1950s]

Anthony Burgess : A Clockwork Orange
[Bored young males explore criminality and destruction. Predicts the rise of Rave music,
ecstasy & joyriding]

Joseph Heller : Catch 22
[World War II anti-war novel]
Ken Kesey : One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
[McMurphy fakes insanity to enter the lunatic asylum, but gets in too deep]

James Baldwin : The Fire Next Time
[Essay on Race addressed to the white readership of the New Yorker]
Sylvia Plath : The Bell Jar
[Autobiographical journey through New York parties & academic politics as she nears breakdown]
Tom Wolfe : The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby
[Cultural voyeurism with a joke book. Compilation of Wolfe's earliest journalism]

Thomas Pynchon : The Crying of Lot 49
[1960s California, and a housewife is drawn into a world of psychoactive drugs, industrial conpsiracy,
paranoia & gigolo rock bands]

Philip K Dick : Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ?
[Sixties sci-fi novel turned Reaganite cult classic following its movie premier as "Blade Runner"]

William Powell : The Anarchist Cookbook
(published 1989)
[How to grow weed, how to make LSD, how to hold a knife - what to do when
you finally get arrested]

Ian Banks : The Wasp Factory
[Introduces the irredemably dysfunctional family of Frank Caulhams]
William Gibson : Necromancer
[The first cyberpunk novel]

Jeanette Winterson : Oranges are not the Only Fruit
[Attacks on the Church and homophobia expose evangelical hypocrises]

James Ellroy : The Black Dahlia
[A satire based on the true mystery surrounding the murder of a Hollywood movie extra in 1947]

Neil Gaiman : The Sandman - Dream Country
[Stories from a major figure in the adult comic scene]

Martin Amis : London Fields
[An anti-novel novel that becomes a page turning who-will-do-it ?]

Douglas Coupland : Generation X
[Three graduate slackers come to terms with the fact that being bright doesn't pay the phone bill]
Roddy Doyle : The Van
[Irish rogues living cu-de-sac lives with dreams about making making from fast food]
Bret Easton Ellis : American Psycho
[Addictive satire of living fast in 1980's Manhattan]
Victor Headley : Yardie
[Introduces D, a crack-dealing, gun-toting Jamaican gangster on the make]
Neal Stephenson : Snow Crash
[Another cyberpunk novel, the natural successor to William Gibson]

Jeff Noon : Vurt
[A grimly comic Manchester of the future peopled by vurt, robo and dog beings]
Will Self : My Idea of Fun
[Classy revulsion about coprophilia, murder and masturbation]
Quentin Tarantino : Reservoir Dogs
[Essentially a film-script that was converted into a cult movie]
Irvine Welsh : Trainspotting
[A brilliant, grotty slice of Edinburgh's thug/drug scene]
Banana Yoshimoto : Kitchen
[Weird couple of novellas with lots of food imagery]

Elizabeth Wurtzel : Prozac Nation
[Sub-titled 'Young and Depressed in America', but this is semi-ironic]

Nicholas Saunders : Ecstasy and the Dance Culture
[Potted history, neat anecdotes, interesting facts,and a bit of politics]

Related Writers

Anthony Burgess
Jack Kerouac