Wednesday, October 19, 2005

100 novels

Of Time Magazine's 100 greatest novels in English since 1923 I have read 23. Of these only one, Roth's American Pastoral, is at all recent. Most I was assigned to read in school (my undergrad major was English literature but my graduate degrees are in a different field) and I can't even remember some of them very well. Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest were all assigned reading in junior high or high school. I remember of these only what has entered the mainstream popular consciousness. Lord of the Flies is about kids run amok. Animal Farm is about some animals being more equal than others. 1984 is about big brother watching you. I remember To Kill a Mockingbird and Cuckoo's Nest much better as movies starring Gregory Peck and Jack Nicholson.

Of all the ones I've read, the only books I would look forward to rereading are The Big Sleep, The Great Gatsby, and Portnoy's Complaint. I don't think I have the energy to reread Faulkner or Nabokov. Then there are an additional 16 novels that I started and never finished, including the two by Thomas Pynchon. Some were assigned for class (Wide Sargasso Sea), some I thought would be fun (A Clockwork Orange). I still do that all the time, start books and never finish them. Some people surely consider this a moral defect.

These days I read only two or three novels a year, almost always recent stuff. I loved The Namesake and Middlesex and I'm still really interested in Roth. I might read the new Rick Moody or John Irving, but no time soon. If I were John Irving I would be peeved that they found a spot for Are You There God, It's Me Margaret but not for me. He would be on my list.


Blogger Kalyn said...

I loved Middlesex and also A Widow for One Year. I agree, Irving should have been on the list, for a number of his books.

10:53 PM  
Blogger femme feral said...

I know it's very very easy to diss a list, but that list is wonky. Like I'm supposed to care what two dudes tell me I should read. Whatevs.

Some of my faves are on there: the heart is a lonely hunter, possession, housekeeping, the moviegoer, to the lighthouse. And I thought the virgin suicides was a better book than middlesex. But the Corrections???? Franzen next to Faulkner??? You got to be kidding me.

Sorry to be so cranky. I'm surrounded by annoying fiction mfa boys who are probably dying to give Franzen a BJ.

1:46 AM  

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