Underworld -- Don DeLillo
Yes, the novel sprawls over the years and the characters in sideways fashion, but DeLillo has managed sprawl to good effect before, and here he does not slacken in skill. The search for the baseball, about which not much is known is except rumor purporting to be History, big H, lays the ground beautifully for a series of stories linked by the search for a usable , recent past through the ruins of a society that flies in the face and faith of the search. Great satire, great prose--DeLillo is among the best living writers in English, I believe: there's not an ounce of fat. This is savvy and skill and sheer know-how that eludes our faux wonder child, David Foster Wallace, prematurely praised for too little work. DeLillo is our best living novelist.
House on Mango Street --Sandra Cisneros
A little jewel, from the point of view, in large part, of a small girl growing up in the slums. I don't know how other the author's work reads, and her poetry, from what I've read, is ordinary and quietly competent, but House is heart breaking, where you witness the hardening of a world view before the young girl had any larger experience. A gem.
The Hours --Michael Cunningham
The intertwined narratives, connected through time and each related in some marginal way with the issue of Virginia Woolfe and her novel Mrs. Dollaway, is lovely, being about lose, desire, the great inability to frame an ideal and then live in it in a universe that is busy, intrusive, insensitive to inner life. Cunningham commands the Woolfe style : the stream of conscious that is amid thought in the ebb and flow of existence: we have , again and again, real images, concrete in detail and form, become, through character musing and more musing, become abstract, fluid, merged with the fleeting psychology of each passing moment. A good work.
A Frolic of One's Own --William Gaddis
I love the fact that the late Gaddis simplified his style not a wit since the 1958 publication of his first novel, The Recognitions. Brilliant dialogue, which drives the novel, sans character attribution. The lawyer trade should duck under the table if they see a judge with this book poking from his robe.
Birds of America --Lorrie Moore An amazing prose writer, this is a terrific set of short stories. It is a cruel error to regard her as a women's author, as her stories have a dimensionality that have the travails and emotions of her women characters' resonate with a congruent male readership.