a self-guided list of (eventually) ~100 for the Bennington Writing Seminars MFA program.
1. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
this book is absolutely perfect. it has it all: race, class, adolescence, small-town dynamics, family bonds. we’ve all read it - I suggest you reread it immediately.
2. The Boy in the Field, Margot Livesy
I read this for another look at how good adolescent writing is achieved, as well as multiple-perspective narration. this book is dreamlike and grounded at the same time, and very well-written.
3. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
an indulgent, captivating book, especially if you are fond of the classics, nostalgic for the 90s, or have a fascination with east coast privilege.
4. Pet Milk, Stuart Dybek
I haven’t been this taken with a short story in quite awhile. this will leave you feeling golden inside. And it’s only 7 pages long.
5. I Stand Here Ironing, Tillie Olsen
A gut-wrenching, masterful story. Every word flows so perfectly into the next... another short one. A must-read.
6. Flight, John Updike
Some of the most approachable and relable Updike out there. The mother-son relationship anticipates his novel, Of the Farm. Another short story - worth the read for how he describes his sweetheart’s skin alone.
7. Araby, James Joyce
From Dubliners, a short and absolutely devestating story about a schoolboy crush and naive notions of fairy-tale endings. Another quick one. Read it.
8. The Mortality of Parents, Jim Shepard
About just that - a very physical story that will make your chest tight as you read the last lines.
9. Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
A novel in 13 short stories. It was hard for me to sink into this until about halfway in, but now that it’s over I’m missing each character so much that my heart aches.