Frank Zappa was the man. Not only was he pretty much a musical genius he was definitely a radical who always presented his arguments in a very controlled, rational, and well thought out manner.
Here's his testimony at the PMRC Senate Hearing on Rock Lyrics
I'm not really a fan of his music, but like George Carlin I wish Frank was around today.
Oh man, there are a ton...
I'm the sort of person who has to read a book within the first month that I get it. If I don't there's a possibility it will sit on my bookshelf for...ever.
So, one, absolutely, is One Hundred Years of Solitude. In the same category is The Brothers Karamazov (I tried twice). Any book that spans multiple generations where characters have the same names (or need to be identified by nicknames) - I'm out. They're great books, but I just can't do it.
One author who also died recently was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance author (can't remember his name). I started it twice and lost interest both times, and honestly I didn't really like the main character.
As for others...off the top of my head Under the Volcano. At some point I was attempting to fill holes in my great books reading and when I started reading it was obvious Malcolm Lowry wrote one great book (I think it's kind of like Charles Laughton and Night of the Hunter - one great work and then nothing). Lowry's vocabulary was off the charts (a dictionary was actually brought out) and I still vividly remember one of the opening scenes where the main character leaves his apartment, walks by a tennis court, and then heads into the mountains as a storm approached. That's all that happened, but the writing was so good I couldn't believe it.
It's 450 pages, and I knew it was great, and I knew I didn't have the fortitude to finish it. Alcoholism and the crumbling of a marriage in Mexico for that many pages was just too much.
I'm sure I'll come up with more.
O.k. two more - both are insanely dense, which isn't a bad thing - but they both came along when I was not ready for them.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Anyone wanting to write fiction or screenplays for film or television should take a look. It basically lays out "the hero's journey" and how all cultures basically have the same stories/myths that bind them together.
I had just finished a book on screen writing from the Gotham Writers Workshop and thought "Now that I've got my feet wet I'll go for the best." It was sort of like reading a good, mid level novel (think White Noise by Delillo) and then taking on Gravity's Rainbow or Finnegans Wake.
The second is A People's History of the United_States by Howard Zinn. 200 pages in I was so depressed I made the conscious decision to not continue (although I should have).