I remember the first time I read Kurt Vonnegut. I received Breakfast of Champions from a future family member (Thank you Dave!), I thought it was one of the weirdest books ever. I had heard of Vonnegut, but never read his work and really didn't understand the irony and sarcasm and the underlying messages that were embedded within the story. I went back and reread the piece a year ago and thought it was absolutely wonderful!
It is funny how the mind evolves over the years and we begin to make connections with other pieces of literature. I have classes now that are completely devoted to make connections between works of literature from throughout history. It's absolutely fascinating how many authors are influenced by just one individual and how the authors who were influenced become the ones who influence the next generation! The chain is never ending and that's great, but what about the authors of the 20th and 21st century?
Very rarely do we reflect on the pieces that change our lives and really change the way we write and think. We are introduced forcefully to Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm which many of us now love and feel inspired by in order to prevent the events that occur within those. We see movies such as V for Vendetta that are completely inspired by these texts but many do not make the connection!
Then, we have the literature that defined the age of my generation's parents. I have yet to read the classics that changed the sense of humor and the enlightening experience of books such as Catch-22 or Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. These are books are being moved to my "must read" list because of the influence of my mother, my aunts, my soon to be uncle, and my girlfriend's father, but am I the only person of my generation to have a desire to read these books?
These are the classics the defined a generation, yet we are only exposed to just a few in school. For me, I can barely wait to dive into these books and see what connections they have to writers like Swift, Joyce, Eliot and the many other "classic" authors from generations past. Not only for that reason, but for the reason of enjoyment of the new classics.
My passion for reading was just rejuvenated with the passing of Vonnegut and I hope someone else was inspired the same way.
Please feel free to leave comments about other books that are a "must" read as defining books of a generation. I can't wait to read what everyone has to offer!
Have a great day!