The Second Pass, an online publication devoted to reviews, essays, and blog posts about books new and old, recently proposed ten novels that should be removed from the canon. Of the ten, I have read five of them.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, which I enjoyed but agree that it should not be included in the canon. I’ve read many other post-apocalyptic novels at least on par with The Road.
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. I’ve read this book twice, in two different decades, and I have yet to grasp the affection that so many have for this book.
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, which I also liked but agree does not require a place in the canon. Very good but not great.
Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf. See below.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I adore Dickens and have no issue with this or any other of his novels being included in the canon. Fabulous storytelling and unforgettable characters. Read them all. Twice.
Had the editors of the Second Pass asked, me, I would have added a few novels of my own to this list, including:
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. I read this novel in high school and remember it being the worst book that I had ever set eyes upon. That was twenty years ago, and though there are days when I feel like I should give the book another shot, especially since it’s so slender and wouldn’t occupy more than a couple days of reading, my loathing and disgust for this book remains. Suicide via sleigh ride? Gimme a break.
Anything written by Virginia Woolf. Sorry, but I just don’t understand anything that this woman writes. During my freshman year of college, I was required to read To the Lighthouse as part of a feminist literary criticism class, and I remember being unable to comprehend the book. I was an English major and I couldn’t understand what the words in a book meant. Since it was 1996 and the Internet was still in its relative infancy, I survived the class by searching on specific references in the book and reporting on them during class. But my inability to comprehend the text nearly caused me to switch majors during my first semester.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Stories that have non-chronological plotlines are annoying, and the book just isn’t as funny as everyone seems to believe.
Thoughts on the list? Would you like to propose any additions?