Ernest Hemingway has always had a real talent for portraying complex characters in equally complicated situations, made even more impressive with his concise vocabulary.
For Whom the Bell Tolls might be one of his more popular stories, following a young American, Robert Jordan, as he fights through the Spanish Civil War as a member of the International Brigades, attached to an antifascist guerrilla unit in the mountains.
As much as H. P. Lovecraft enjoyed writing about otherworldly horrors, he was also no stranger to the more grounded and dark compulsions laying dormant within us, seldom shying away from exploring them if his mind wandered this way.
The Alchemist, The Cats of Ulthar and The Terrible Old Man are three of his lesser-known short stories, each one dealing in their own strange ways with the theme of retribution.
Truman Capote may very well have revolutionized the world of journalism when he wrote the novelized yet non-fictional account of the Clutter family murder, but more than that, he created one of the most powerful and compelling true crime narrations that takes us into the emotional and psychological depths of the American tragedy.
Praised by one side and criticized by the other, In Cold Blood remains a rather controversial book to this very day, one that is nevertheless deemed an important milestone in American literature.
Franz Kafka was one of the more complex and thought-provoking authors of the twentieth century, and though he may have died young, his classics like The Trial will live on forever, telling the timeless story of an ordinary man, Joseph K., who one day wakes up only to find himself accused of a crime he has no recollection of committing.
What’s worse, not a person in the world seems to be able to tell him what crime he’s actually being accused of. Standing before the grinding gears of the bureaucratic machine Joseph K. must resolve the impossible matter or be grinded down into nothingness, like so many before him.
Albert Camus was always known for his complex stories that were profound studies of human nature, and The Stranger fits that description perfectly, telling the story of a young disinterested in life whose fate quickly spirals out of control for seemingly inexplicable reasons.
Meursault isn’t the kind of person anyone is used to, having his own outlook on life and a curious way of justifying his actions and inactions.
However, when his unusual philosophy leads him into dire straits, he cannot help but question all he has ever held true and whether or not a human life, even one such as his, can have a real meaning to it.
Umberto Eco has never failed to surprise us with original ideas and plots in his book, and that’s more the case with Foucault’s Pendulum than any other book of his, telling the ridiculous story of a hoax conspiracy between various cults and orders becoming all too real, plunging three editors headlong into peril.