(Proper article next time, though. Either "3 Great Novels Written by Musicians" or an in-depth author profile).
The Way of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler
This book is... different. It's intensely Victorian, like the ink was made from tea leaves and meat pie filling. However, one gets the feeling that, like Alasdair Gray's Poor Things or Alan Moore's From Hell, it's immersing itself so perfectly in the Victorian age in attempt to show the real Victorianism.
|Just hollowed the old broad out and wore her as a suit.|
Butler also does a great job of really digging into the roots of Ernest's father's cruelty, both in showing the origins of his need for power and constant affirmation of his importance (a childhood spent in the shadow of his own father, never having the courage to challenge those who were not dependent on him) and the reason's for his wife's meekness and the absolute need she has for her husband's happiness. Butler also ties these beautifully with Victorian ideals, making it absolutely clear that this domestic tyranny and cruelty is a natural extension of Victorian moralism and the sense of obligation.
|"Have I mentioned that Jesus was a lie?"|
The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks
Okay, I'm torn with this book. I really, really enjoyed it while I was reading it-- I picked it up at 11 at night, read the first 2/3rds, went to bed, and finished it immediately upon waking up --but I'm a little hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend it. In part because I'm not sure I want to go on record as having liked it.
The Wasp Factory contains some of the most brutal, fucked-up content I've ever read. Our narrator, Frank, is a teenage sociopath living on the West Coast of Scotland, getting drunk, killing animals, arranging their skulls on sticks along invisible ley lines, and reminiscing about the three children he murdered when he was younger.
|Why are there people like Frank?|
That said... I'd be careful with this book, if I were you. It may be understandable and ring uncomfortably true, but it is still a brutal, brutal novel. I'm not even going to describe any of the most chilling scenes in it because I don't want to be responsible for putting them in your head. Just know that, if you do read it, there is a reason behind all of it and it does have a point. And it's a book you will almost certainly tear through in a white heat and be very, very glad to finish.
|"I write about spaceships! And five-year-olds being blown to pieces!"|
Several years ago, when the three of them were all just starting out as actors, the authors of this book did a TV show. It ran from 1999 to 2003. It was a parody of after-school specials called Strangers With Candy, and it was wonderful: surreal, strange, and operating by its own beautiful, inexplicable logic. It was easily one of the best TV comedies of all time and it's astounding that something as dark and weird as it ever made it onto television in the first place.
|The character on the right never moves on camera and always makes that face.|
Wigfield is the story of Russell Hokes, former highway line painter turned writer, who signs a contract to write 50,000 words about the disappearing American small town and rapidly discovers he can neither write about nor care about the disappearing American small town. Hokes's narrative voice is the best part about the book: he's a terrible, terrible writer who thinks he's a great one, and most of the book's best jokes come from his attempts to sound eloquent (and pad his word count), such as his claim that "with the future in my rearview mirror, I set a course for the past," or the fact that you can clearly identify the passages in which Hokes has attempted to use a thesaurus (usually in trying to find synonyms for "small town").
The town Hokes alights in, Wigfield, is "a charming architectural melange, the overall effect being that of a series of children's forts made from stolen highway equipment"-- a hastily-constructed shantytown/trailer park constructed at the base of a soon-to-be-destroyed dam as an obvious insurance scam. The book becomes an absolutely vicious satire on the "small town" and, moreso, on our love for the town. One of the biggest recurring jokes is the moment at which one of Wigfield's vaguely insane residents (there's supposedly a local serial killer, but it could be pretty much any citizen) will say something absolutely horrible, following it with a proclamation of small-town pride. Wigfield is essentially the worst place on earth, and Hokes is able to convince himself, and hopes to convince his reader, that it's "charming" and "quaint" just because very, very few people want to live there.
|And then Stephen Colbert is in this picture.|