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Staff Picks - American Classics

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A Death in the Family (FICTION AGEE)
by James Agee       
This poignant but unsentimental account of what happens to his wife and young son when Jay Follet fails to return home from a late-night drive won the Pulitzer Prize posthumously.       

Winesburg, Ohio (FICTION ANDERSON)
by Sherwood Anderson 
Profiles the people of a small Midwestern town in the early 1900s, revealing the consequences of human misunderstanding.     

My Antonia (FICTION CATHER)   
by Willa Cather                                    
The reminiscences of a NY lawyer, about his boyhood in Nebraska, particularly concerning a young Bohemian named Ántonia Shimerda, are set against the backdrop of the American assimilation of the immigrant.                                      

The Red Badge of Courage (FICTION CRANE)                               
by Stephen Crane                                               
Young Henry Fleming joins the Union army to seek glory and fight the rebels and winds up searching for courage as his conscience recoils at the horrors of war.    

An American Tragedy (FICTION DREISER)
by Theodore Dreiser   
In Clyde Griffiths, the impoverished, restless offspring of a family of street preachers, we see a portrait of a man whose circumstances and dreams of self-betterment conspire to pull him toward an act of unforgivable violence.   

Invisible Man (FICTION ELLISON)
by Ralph Ellison                               
During the 1950’s a young, nameless black man finds himself rendered invisible as he moves through levels of American intolerance.                                                                    

Light in August (FICTION FAULKNER)
by William Faulkner           
This is the intense story of Lena Grove’s search for the father of her unborn child, and Joe Christmas, a desperate drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.             

The Great Gatsby (FICTION FITZGERALD)
by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
On Long Island in the early 1920s the mysterious Jay Gatsby tries to rekindle his romance with Daisy, a young woman who has married another man.                            

The Lord of the Flies (FICTION GOLDING)
by William Golding       
A group of English school boys are left stranded on an unpopulated island must confront not only the defects of their society but the defects of their own nature. 

The Maltese Falcon (FICTION HAMMETT)
by Dashiell Hammett
Spade's partner is murdered on a stakeout; the cops blame him for it; a beautiful redhead with a heartbreaking story appears and everyone wants a fabulously valuable gold statuette of a falcon.          

Catch-22 (FICTION HELLER)
by Joseph Heller                                   
This satirical and historical novel depicts the struggles of a U.S. airman attempting to survive the lunacy and depravity of a World War II base.      

The Sun Also Rises (FICTION HEMINGWAY)
by Ernest Hemingway   
A group of American and English expatriates on an excursion from Paris to Pamplona for the July fiesta and its climactic bull fight, a journey from the center of a civilization spiritually bankrupted by the First World War to a vital, God-haunted world in which faith and honor have yet to lose their currency.                              

Their Eyes Were Watching God (FICTION HURSTON)                   
by Zora Neale Hurston                                         
Independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person -- no mean feat for a black woman in the 1930s. Janie’s quest for identity takes her through three marriages and a murder trial.             

The Wings of the Dove (FICTION JAMES)
by Henry James 
This novel, set in London and Venice, features Milly Theale, a young heiress with a short time to live, who sets out to make her life worthwhile--as Merton Densher and Kate Croy set forth on a plan of betrayal.       

From Here to Eternity (FICTION JONES)
by James Jones     
Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a champion welterweight and a fine bugler. But when he refuses to join the company's boxing team, he gets "the treatment" that may break him or kill him. 

On the Road (FICTION KEROUAC)
by Jack Kerouac                     
A group of Ivy-league educated young men break off from the mainstream, hitchhiking across America in the 1950’s in a mad bohemian journey. 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (FICTION KESEY)               
by Ken Kesey                                         
McMurphy, a criminal who feigns insanity, is admitted to a mental hospital where he challenges the authority of the sadistic head Nurse Ratched.  

To Kill a Mockingbird (FICTION LEE)
by Harper Lee                     
A 1930’s Southern town grapples with issues of race and justice in this story told from the eyes of Scout, a precocious tomboy whose lawyer father is defending a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime in this instant classic.  

The Call of the Wild (FICTION LONDON)
by Jack London
The adventures of an unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch shepherd, that is forcibly taken to the Klondike gold fields where he eventually becomes the leader of a wolf pack.  

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (FICTION MCCULLERS)
by Carson McCullers                                 
Deaf-mute John Singer becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s.  When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine finds solace in her music. 

Moby Dick (FICTION MELVILLE)
by Herman Melville               
The adventures of a young seaman when he joins the crew of the whaling ship Pequod, led by the fanatical Captain Ahab in pursuit of the white whale Moby Dick.                      

The Tropic of Cancer (FICTION MILLER)
by Henry Miller
This notorious and revolutionary novel is so raw, unabashed and unsparing in its depiction of the bohemian underworld of 1930’s Paris that it was banned in the U. S. for 30 years.      

The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (FICTION POE)                       
Poe’s twisted tales have provoked nightmares for many years.  Thrill and chill to macabre classics like The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven.                  

The Fountainhead (FICTION RAND)
by Ayn Rand                     
The story of an intransigent young architect, Howard Roark, of his battle against a mindless status quo, and of his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who worships him yet struggles to defeat him.                        

The Catcher in the Rye (FICTION SALINGER)
by J. D. Salinger
Spend a few days playing hooky in NY City with Holden Caufield, a wry and skeptical 16-year-old who can’t quite get used to the crummy fact that growing up means becoming a complete and total phony.  

The Grapes of Wrath (FICTION STEINBECK)
by John Steinbeck             
The story of a farm family's Depression-era journey from the Dustbowl of Oklahoma to the California migrant labor camps in search of a better life. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (FICTION TWAIN)          
by Mark Twain                                                             
Float down the Mississippi River with Huck and runaway slave Jim in this free-wheeling odyssey, part coming-of-age adventure and part sly satire on the senselessness of slavery.  

Slaughterhouse-Five (FICTION VONNEGUT)
by Kurt Vonnegut
While on exhibit on the planet of Tralfamadore, Billy Pilgrim, American soldier and witness to the bombing of Dresden, revisits his memories of the past and the horrors of war.  

The Age of Innocence (FICTION WHARTON)
by Edith Wharton
Seemingly happy in his comfortable, if repressive, world of upper class New York, Newland Archer finds himself questioning all his assumptions about life when he meets his fiance's cousin, the mysterious Countess Olenska.