(Caution: White Male Overload in the next few paragraphs.)
#1: Thom Jones’s ‘The Pugilist at Rest’
Thom Jones is my Literary Jesus ( and by curious and completely beside-the-point and Thom-heavy happenstance, Thom Yorke is my musical Jesus). The Pugilist at Rest is my favorite short story collection of all time, bar none. It’s excessively masculine, at least in most of the stories. Jones gets a lot of mileage out of stories dealing with boxing, Vietnam, Schopenhauer, and frontal-lobe epilepsy (usually acquired via -you guessed it- boxing or Vietnam). His characters are often reoccurring, although often not in such a way as one would notice without careful attention. Be careful, at least one of these stories is likely to pry some manly tears out of even the stoniest of eyes.
#2: Norman Maclean’s ‘A River Runs Through It’
Masculinity, paternity, and fraternity. Also fishing and fighting. Interestingly enough, one of the least aggressive books I’ve ever read. Maclean is a gentle touch, soft-spoken and deliberate. Definately a wise/old grandpa figure. This novella is beautifully paced and makes me feel more strongly the impact of the natural world than any nature writing ever has (or likely will)
#3: Paul Harding’s ‘Tinkers’
Yep, I’m gonna keep adding the understated examinations of the nature of family. That shit’s manly, right? Even if you disagree, Harding’s look at a beloved patriarch on his deathbed and the man’s memories of his own father are a powerful look into the ontology of paternal masculinity. Harding’s prose manages to be both sprawling and densely packed. It may be a short novel, but it’s a longer read.
Honorable Mention: Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’ or ‘The Old Man and the Sea’
You fucking know why.