Popular Narrative Literature
Peyton Place (Novel)
The main plot follows the lives of three women – lonely and repressed Constance MacKenzie, her illegitimate daughter Allison, and her employee Selena Cross, a girl from “across the tracks” or as it is called in the book “from the shacks” – and how they come to terms with their identity as women and sexual beings in a small New England town. Hypocrisy, social inequities, and class privilege are recurring themes in a tale that includes incest, abortion, adultery, lust and murder
Bucket Nut (Novel)
A heroine as unlovely as she is unlikely, Eva Wylie (”Bucket Nut”) is hulking, foul-mouthed, and short- tempered, but she hides a heart of gold beneath her steely emotional armor. With Bucket Nut-inaccurately billed as a mystery-Liza Cody (Backhand) launches a promising new series in which the lovably lowbrow Eva, a professional wrestler and unwitting hit woman, hunts down her estranged sister and becomes enamored of a WASPy female junkie.
Bridget Jones Diary (Film)
Bridget Jones is frustrated; she is thirty-something, still single, and worried about her weight. She works at a book publishing company in London where her main focus is fantasizing about her boss Daniel Cleaver. On New Year’s Day, she finally decides to turn it all around and starts her own diary, which covers all her attempts to stop smoking, lose weight, and catch her Mr. Right. Lawyer Mark Darcy, Bridget’s mother’s favourite choice for a future husband, does not appeal to Bridget at all. After seeing him at a Christmas party at her parents’ house, she finds Mark to be annoying and arrogant.
Ender’s Game (Novel)
Ender’s Game (1985) is one of the best-known novels by Orson Scott Card. It is set in Earth’s future where mankind has barely survived two invasions by the “buggers”, an insectoid alien race, and the International Fleet is preparing for war. In order to find and train the eventual commander for the anticipated third invasion, the world’s most talented children, including the extraordinary Ender Wiggin, are taken into Battle School at a very young age. The book takes place around the year 2135
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Novel)
“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” takes place in 1992 (in later publications, it takes place in 2021) several years after the fallout resulting from “World War Terminus” destroyed much of Earth. In the aftermath, the United Nations encourages people to emigrate to off-world colonies to preserve the human race from the effects of the radioactive dust. One incentive is that each emigrant will receive a custom-built android servant (colloquially referred to as an “andy”). The people who remain on Earth live in cluttered cities where radiation poisoning causes significant illness and gene damage. All animals are endangered. Owning and caring for an animal is considered a civic virtue and a status symbol, depending on the rarity of the species. Animals are bought and sold according to the price of the latest Sidney’s Catalog, including extinct animals (listed as ‘E’) and animals currently unavailable on the market (listed in italics at the last going price). Some people who cannot afford an animal choose to buy an artificial, robotic animal to maintain social standing. The protagonist Rick Deckard owned a sheep, which died of tetanus and was replaced by an electric replica to maintain the illusion of animal ownership.
When commercial towing vehicle Nostromo, heading back to Earth, intercepts an SoS signal from a nearby planet, the crew are under obligation to investigate. After a bad landing on the planet, some crew members leave the ship to explore the area. At the same time as they discover a hive colony of some unknown creature, the ship’s computer deciphers the message to be a warning, not a call for help. When one of the eggs is disturbed, the crew do not know the danger they are in until it is too late.
Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by the British author Mary Shelley. Shelley wrote the novel when she was 18 years old. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Shelley’s name appears on the revised third edition, published in 1831. The title of the novel refers to a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who learns how to create life and creates a being in the likeness of man, but larger than average and more powerful. In modern popular culture, people have tended to refer to the Creature as “Frankenstein” (especially in films since 1931), despite this being the name of the scientist. Frankenstein is a novel infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. It was also a warning against the “over-reaching” of modern man and the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in the novel’s subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. The story has had an influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films. It is arguably considered the first fully realized science fiction novel.
Edward Scissorhands (Film)
The plot revolves around a man named Edward; the creation of a scientist, who is adopted into an American family in a brightly-colored suburban neighborhood. The film is a comedy-drama set in an exaggerated and highly stereotypical vision of American suburbia and the typical families that inhabit it. It intentionally combines clichés and styles from both the 1950s, early 1960s and the late 1980s. The concept, and many of the motifs of Edward Scissorhands can be compared to the Gothic novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and the 1931 film of the same name.
The Shining (Film)
Jack Torrance is a temperamental writer who is trying to rebuild the lives of his family and himself after his alcoholism caused him to break his (then) three-year-old son Danny’s arm, and then caused him to assault a pupil at a Vermont prep school, therefore losing his job. Having given up drinking, he accepts a job as a winter caretaker at a large, isolated, Colorado resort hotel with a gory history. Hoping to prove that he has recovered from his alcoholism, and is now a responsible person, Jack moves into the Overlook Hotel with his wife, Wendy, and young son, Danny, who is telepathic and sensitive to supernatural forces.
Interview with a Vampire (Novel)
Published in 1976, Interview with the Vampire quickly became a cult success, and a prominent influence on present Goth culture. The novel was set apart from its predecessors of the vampire genre by its confessional tone from the vampire’s perspective, touching on existential despair and the sheer boredom of lifeless immortality.
The Hobbit (Novel)
The Hobbit is set in a time “between the dawn of Faerie and the Dominion of Men,” and follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins (the titular “Hobbit”) to win his share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. His journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings and into darker, deeper territory, meeting various denizens of the Wilderland along the way. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature (the “Tookish” side) and utilizing both his wits and common sense during the quest, Bilbo develops a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom.
Time Bandits (Film)
A young boy’s wardrobe contains a time hole. Through this hole an assortment of short people (i.e. dwarfs) come while escaping from their master, the supreme being. They take Kevin with them on their adventures through time from Napoleonic times to the Middle Ages to the early 1900s, to the time of Legends and the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness where they confront Evil.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Novel)
The novel begins with the wizarding world’s celebration of the downfall of Lord Voldemort, an evil, powerful and cruel Dark wizard. After he killed Lily and James Potter, Voldemort attempted to murder their one-year-old son, Harry. The magical curse rebounded and destroyed Lord Voldemort’s body, leaving only a lightning-bolt scar on Harry’s forehead. Harry is placed in the care of his muggle relatives, the Dursley family.
As the title would suggest, it follows the travels of the legendary sword Excalibur through Arthurian myth, from the violent, powerful hands of Uther Pendragon, to a long-years’ rest in the stone to being redrawn by Uther’s son Arthur, who uses it to defeat the evil invaders and establish the great court of Camelot and the great Knights of the Round Table. It is there in Arthur’s glory years and in his decline, brought on by the love affair between his wife Guenevere and best friend and best knight Sir Lancelot, the Holy Grail Quest which produces many casualties among the knights, and the arrival of Mordred, the son Arthur had by his evil half-sister, the sorceress Morgana. Through it all, the magician Merlin watches over everything, always ready to throw in a Charm of Making when it’s called for.
Sin City (Film)
“Sin City” is four stories inter-weaved telling tales of corruption in Basin City. The first story (The Customer is always right) is short, and is based on the depression of women that they need to pay a man to feel loved when they commit suicide. The next story is Part 1 of “That Yellow Bastard” about a cop who needs to save a young girl from being raped. The third story (The Hard Goodbye) features a man taking revenge on a heartless killer who murdered his one-night stand. The fourth story (The Big, Fat Kill) stars a man who must dispatch a cop’s body, but it will be a tough ride to do it. Following that are two conclusions to Sin City, the ending of “That Yellow Bastard” which is set 8 years later, and a short story that ends Sin City.
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Novel)
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale is a memoir by Art Spiegelman, presented as a graphic novel. It recounts the struggle of Spiegelman’s father to survive the Holocaust as a Polish Jew and draws largely on his father’s recollections of his experiences. The book also follows the author’s troubled relationship with his father and the way the effects of war reverberate through generations of a family.
The Murder of Roger Akroyd (Novel)
Is one of Christie’s best known and most controversial novels, its innovative twist ending having a significant impact on the genre. The book is set in the fictional village of King’s Abbott in England. It is narrated by Dr. James Sheppard, who becomes Poirot’s assistant (a role filled by Captain Hastings in several other Poirot novels). The story begins with the death of Mrs. Ferrars, a wealthy widow who is rumoured to have murdered her husband. Her death is initially believed to be suicide until Roger Ackroyd, a widower who had been expected to marry Mrs. Ferrars, dies. The suspects include Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, Roger’s neurotic hypochondriac sister-in-law who has accummulated personal debts through extravagant spending; her daughter Flora; Major Blunt, a big-game hunter; Geoffrey Raymond, Ackroyd’s personal secretary; Ralph Paton, Ackroyd’s stepson and another person with heavy debts; Parker, a snooping butler; and Ursula Bourne, a parlourmaid with an uncertain history who resigned her post the afternoon of the murder.The initial suspect is Ralph, who is engaged to Flora and stands to inherit his stepfather’s fortune. Several critical pieces of evidence seem to point to Ralph. Poirot, who has just moved to the town, begins to investigate at Flora’s behest.The book ends with a then-unprecedented plot twist: Poirot, having exonerated all of the original suspects, lays out a completely reasoned case that the murderer is in fact Dr. Sheppard, who has not only been Poirot’s assistant but the story’s narrator. The story is then shown to be an attempt by Dr. Sheppard to write about the failure to catch the criminal by Poirot, but he appends a confession and suicide note written after Poirot’s exposition.
Double Indemnity (Film)
In 1938, the experienced salesman of the Pacific All Risk Insurance Co. Walter Neff meets the seductive wife of one of his client, Phyllis Dietrichson, and they have an affair. Phyllis proposes to kill her husband Dietrichson to receive the prize of an accident insurance policy and Walter plots a scheme to receive twice the amount based on a double indemnity clause. When Mr. Dietrichson is found dead on the trails of a train, the police accepts the evidence of accidental death. However, the insurance analyst and Walter’s best friend Barton Keyes does not buy the version and suspects that Phyllis has murdered her husband with the help of another man.
Forty Words for Sorrow (Novel)
The story opens with the discovery of the body of 13-year old Katie Pine frozen in a block of ice on the desolate island of Windago outside Algonquin Bay. The disappearance of a teenage boy, the discovery of yet another dead teenager, and the disappearance of a fourth follow Pine’s death. What begins as a detailed police procedural involving forensics, footwork and follow-up slowly turns into a classic serial killer story.
The Grifters (Novel)
Roy Dillon seems too handsome and well-mannered to be a professional con man. Lilly Dillon looks too young — and loves Roy a little too intensely — to be taken for his mother. Moira Langtry is getting too old to keep on living off the kindness of male strangers. And Carol Roberg seems too innocent to be acquainted with suffering