Cover for the first half of Gene Wolfe's BOOK OF THE NEW SUN
I quoted Gene Wolfe the other day, and I'm going to do that one more time, again from The Castle of the Otter:
A good story is one in which a sympathetic and three-dimensional protagonist has absorbing and unusual adventures against a varied and interesting background. A great story is one a cultivated reader can read with pleasure and later re-read with increased pleasure.
-- Gene Wolfe
It seems to me that Wolfe's definition of a "great story" would include almost all of the fiction of Robert Anton Wilson, Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun, James Joyces's Ulysses, Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Richard Powers' The Gold Bug Variations, among many other books that could be named. These books are my personal choices of course — they are all books I had read and re-read — but I'm sure many of you reading this have your own personal list.