1. The Violent Bear It Away, by Flannery O’Connor
Flannery O’Connor has this way of ripping your insides apart in the most surgical, delicate manner. I don’t think anybody portrays brutality with such beautiful, precise language as Flannery O’Connor.
2. The Ballad of the Sad Café, by Carson McCullers
Anybody who has a soft spot for the weirdos and eccentrics of the world should read The Ballad of the Sad Café.
3. Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, by Herman Mellville
The first time I was recommended this book, I was in high school. A friend and I were pondering over this large-ish section of one of those Prentiss Hall English text books and asked a history teacher what good ol’ Bartleby is about. He told us it was about a guy who would rather starve to death than conform to society’s rules, at which point my friend and I looked at each and breathlessly exclaimed, “Cool!’ Of course, Bartleby’s about more than that. And if you’ve never made it all the way through Moby Dick you should sit down and give Bartleby a try.
4. The Devil, by Leo Tolstoy
A rich Russian dude becomes sexually obsessed with a peasant girl. And there are alternate endings! (Buy the Melville House Publishing version.)
Jackie Corley developed Word Riot in March 2002 with the help of Paula Anderson. Word Riot Press, an independent publishing press, evolved out of the magazine in January 2003. Her writing has appeared on-line at MobyLives.com, 3:AM Magazine, Pequin, among others, and in various print anthologies. Her short story collection, The Suburban Swindle was published in October 2008 by So New. Find her HERE.