We all feel a tad misanthropic from time to time — but not all of us are good at making it sound beautiful, or hilarious. Enter Ivyland, Miles Klee’s recently released debut novel, a dark satire of 21st-century America, where almost nothing in the surreal and violent New Jersey town of the title eludes Klee’s razorlike contempt. A handful of other authors excel at this same kind of comic ruthlessness, demolishing everything allegedly sacred, and creating the most deliciously nasty heroes, and we asked Mr. Klee to curate a list of his favorite authors and books that do exactly that. Click through to read his suggestions, and let us know your own favorite malicious reads in the comments.
Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard
In a lone unbroken paragraph, the Austrian master of spite conjures a Viennese “artistic” dinner party of intolerable mannerisms, endless babble and incoherent accidents — all in the wake of an abandoned friend’s suicide. Railing against the indignity of existence from a darkened corner of the room, our narrator gets drunk and silently observes an event whose snowballing absurdity outmatches his own infinite cynicism.