Classic Books of the Ages

Ryan Hol­i­day asks, What is the ‘clas­sic’ book of the 80s and 90s? Ryan starts by list­ing the clas­sics from pre­vi­ous eras and dec­ades…

The Scar­let Let­ter (colo­ni­al Amer­ica)
The Adven­tures of Huckle­berry Finn (slavery)
The Red Badge of Cour­age (some­times for civil war)
The Jungle (turn of the cen­tury)
All Quiet on the West­ern Front (WWI)
The Great Gatsby (20s)
Of Mice and Men (30s)
Catch­er in the Rye (50s and 60s)
Fahren­heit 451 (Cold War)

…and goes on to sug­gest that the clas­sic 80s book is Amer­ic­an Psy­cho and Fight Club for the 90s.

I can­not dis­agree with Amer­ic­an Psy­cho; the book satires per­fectly the 80s yup­pie cul­ture which embod­ies everything the 80s was about. The 90s, how­ever, is a dif­fer­ent story: Fight Club is a good and very val­id choice, but I would argue that Train­spot­ting is on par with it for rep­res­ent­ing 90s UK cul­ture.

Like My Life in Books, I can only sug­gest The Cor­rec­tions for the cur­rent dec­ade.

Oth­er con­tenders were:

2 thoughts on “Classic Books of the Ages

  1. nicole

    I like your pick of Trainspotting—even though it is very UK, heroin and HIV were major cul­tur­al issues in the US at the same time and I think a lot of it trans­lates well to US life.

    I said yes­ter­day I felt it was hard for me to get the right per­spect­ive on those dec­ades to choose books; I have been think­ing also that writers don’t yet have the per­spect­ive either. The Red Badge of Cour­age was writ­ten thirty years after the end of the Civil War; The Scar­let Let­ter cen­tur­ies after the time it por­trays. We may be wait­ing a while for the “real” quint­es­sen­tial 80s and 90s books.

  2. Lloyd Morgan Post author

    I can­’t agree more. What we may all one day class as the defin­ing book of the 80s or 90s has undoubtedly not been writ­ten. If it has, I’ll be sur­prised. For now all we can do is choose from those that are.

    As you say; look­ing at lists such as this, it’s the excep­tion, not the rule, that books that typi­fy a dec­ade or gen­er­a­tion were writ­ten dur­ing it.

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