The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac (1958)
I’ve never read Kerouac before, but his book On The Road is considered groundbreaking in American lit., and Kerouac coined the term “Beat Generation”. He fits somewhere between jazz and rock-n-roll. Decided to pick this one up for $2 at Fables Bookstore. It was shocking content for the time, because there’s a brief 0rgy scene. By today’s standards, not explicit. After reading this book I do recommend that serious writers read at least one Kerouac novel. His prose is beautiful, and even though the plot is nonexistent and character development is minimal, Kerouac is a master of the stream of consciousness style of writing. Not for you if you don’t like stuff without a plot.
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, by Michael Chabon (2007)
I got this one from my brother-in-law Brandon, swapped him for another book. I have read Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay previously. This book has an interesting premise. What if many of the world’s Jews were sent to Sitka, Alaska, following WWII, in a sort of ghetto environment, waiting to be allowed into other nations after 50+ years? This is a noir-ish detective story with a mix of non-religious Jews, as well as Chasidic and Tlingit communities and a chess theme. I appreciated the unique cocktail that mixes up, particularly the sidekick character Berko Shemets, who is half Jewish, half Native American. I would really have liked to read more of Chabon’s notes on the back story which he alludes to frequently. If you liked Chabon’s other work you’ll like this too. Try Kavalier and Clay first.