Sunday, August 04, 2013

Entertainment Weekly's "Best 100 Novels" List, 76-100

76. The Golden Notebook. I remembering being underwhelmed by this one. But hey, Doris Lessing, she probably deserves a spot. (But so does Iris Murdoch; where is she on here?)

77. Tom Jones. Have not read this, and probably should. It’s famous and stuff!

78. A House for Mr. Biswas. Ugh, I hated this book. And in my head I still call it “A House for Mr. Dishwash” because Ian named it that.  Maybe I just dislike post-colonialism? But I loved White Teeth! I’m so confused.

79. Bring Up the Bodies. I love that this is on here! I kind of preferred Wolf Hall, although Bring Up the Bodies was less annoying with its pronouns, but it is a great book. They should just have put both on here though, since the list lumps books together like the Rabbit series or His Dark Materials. Just put these two plus whatever the third one will be, because you know it will be fucking fantastic.

80. Swann’s Way. At the top of my to-read pile. 

81. Frankenstein. I’m going to say this is a good spot for it. After teaching it last semester, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s somewhat poorly paced and overlong.  I still appreciate that it is iconic, densely thematic, symbolic, and by a woman, so hooray to all of that!

82. Disgrace. Another ‘90s book that I haven’t heard of. You know who I have heard of? Henry fucking James. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’m sure this is a good book.)

83. The Stone Diaries. 1993! No idea!

84. Clockers. 1992! Not a clue!

85. Catch-22. Oh hell no, this is lower than A House for Mr. Dishwash? This is in my top 30 for sure. And on the top of my re-read list. And I love it.

86. A Home at the End of the World. Well I have heard of it, and I have meant to read Cunningham, but it was published in the ‘90s, so nope.

87. White Teeth. Hey, speak of the devil! Glad to see it on here. And it was published in 2000 so I was able to escape the 1990s moratorium when I was apparently too busy dressing in flannel and making out with boys in bands to read, and I actually read it.  Love this book. Happy to see it.

88. The Bonfire of the Vanities. I read this (in a hammock on the beach in Cancun, Kailuum 4eva), and it was fine. But I am abruptly reminded that All the King’s Men has not been on this list, and All the King’s Men is an amazing, amazing novel, and it stuck with me far longer than Bonfire even though I think I read them both around the same time. So you’ve got some ‘splaining to do, list!

89. Tristram Shandy. Have not read it, but want to!

90. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. This is the book I feel most guilty about not liking (yes, even more than Midnight’s Children) (I don’t feel guilty for not liking Wide Sargasso Sea, although I’m kind of surprised it isn’t here anyway.) I found the central Christ figure thing obviously symbolic and irritating.  I maybe should give it another chance, because this was one of the first books I read for my reading project, and I think I started in 2005.

91. The Leopard. The what now?

92. The Glass Bead Game. Have never even heard of this, even though Herman Hesse apparently won a Nobel Prize for it. Well I guess I’ll give it a try then!

93. Bastard Out of Carolina. If you’re going to put memoir on here, from the 1990s, there’s no excuse for picking this instead of Liars’ Club. I mean this book is good and obviously sad and powerful and all that, but Liars’ Club is exquisite. I should re-read that one too!

94. The Moonstone. Apparently one of the first detective novels ever written, in 1868. Well then, I will read this one too!

95. The Poisonwood Bible. Have not read.

96. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. On my nightstand, thanks to Ian. On my “to-read” list. I think based on the first few pages I will really love it.

97. The Big Sleep. Fun, though I preferred The Maltese Falcon for noir and would probably swap them out.

98. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I love that this book is on here. Absolutely, awesome pick.

99. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Ditto, this is a great comic novel and deserves to be here.

100. The Joy Luck Club. I haven’t read this in years, but I remember it being really good.

The final count is 30% women. It is slightly depressing to me that as I was going through this list, it seemed like a lot! But it does make sense given the historical canon and whatnot. Off the top of my head I would have added Flannery O’Connor, Daphne DuMaurier, Iris Murdoch, Joan Didion, and Shirley Jackson. I would have kicked out Ayn Rand in favor of Henry James, though.

Thanks for reading all my blatherings. I am done!

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3 Comments:

Blogger Rachel said...

The Stone Diaries is wonderful. You know, if you're looking for more books. :)

7:33 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ha, I was just going to say how much I hated The Stone Diaries! But then I couldn't remember anything about it so I went back and looked at what I wrote about it at the time, and apparently I loved it. So you should probably read it and then tell me what it was about.

I did, however, really and truly hate The Poisonwood Bible.

1:05 PM  
OpenID evilgayunicorn said...

-Tom Jones is a picaresque and that's why Ian Watt didn't even include it in "The Rise of the Novel" but it's a very fun romp nonetheless.

-I really liked A Bend in the River if you are willing to try another V.S. Naipaul. It's very pessimistic about post-colonial Afica, so early reviewers were like "you must be a colonial apologist if you think those countries aren't better off now!" but he definitely foresaw how much the new countries would suck. (Also: Mr. Dishwash! I make myself laugh.)

-Why hasn't Zadie Smith written another book as good as White Teeth?

-Thanks for noticing that All The King's Men DID NOT MAKE THE CUT. I have to go jump off a building now.

-Tristram Shandy is funny!

-The Leopard...Michael Chabon did a shout-out to it in Kavalier & Clay (page 253!) Critic Richard Eder's favorite book of all time. I think you have a bias against foreign literature.

-The Glass Bead Game is ON MY SHELF. Original title is "Magister Ludi." Not a US favorite. I heard about it from someone I met in Leningrad.

-FYI "Bastard Out Of Carolina: A Novel" is not a memoir. Liar's Club is a memoir and I think memoirs were exclude from EW's list.

-The Moonstone was fun and all but doesn't belong on this list.

-I know some day you will actually read If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler! I just know it.

1:28 PM  

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