Wednesday, August 6, 2008

TIME Magazine's 100 Best Novels: Part Three of Three

Click here for Part One, and click here for Part Two. Onwards, soldier!

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
Never heard of it.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Again, I'm embarrassed I've never read this.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Oooh, oooh ooh! I love this book so much. The combination of Stephenson's great prose, linguistics, cyberpunk and asskicking made it a terrific book for me. Loved it!

The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
I just picked up a cheap copy for 3 dollars the other day. I'll read it eventually.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Yes, I agree. This should definitely be on this list. The ability to recreate the mind's working is one of Faulkner's best attributes. He has a gift for displaying the inner thoughts with such believability. I think Faulkner isn't highly regarded enough. This novel is on the same level as Woolf and Joyce and Nabokov, for sure.

The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
I loved this book. It was terrific. Highly recommended.

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre
Always wanted to, never read it.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
From what little Hemingway I've read, I don't care for him. No thanks.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Never read it.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Never heard of it.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Read it in high school and liked it enough. The movie with Gregory Peck was better, though.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
I dreaded reading this for university, but when I did, I fell head over heels for Woolf. This is my favourite by her.

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
I've been itching to read this since it was referenced on Seinfeld.

Ubik by Philip K. Dick
Read it and thought it was okay.

Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
Never read it.

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
Never read it.

Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
Hmmm... I don't know how I feel about this being on here. Of course I've read it. Who hasn't? But is it a novel the same sense as the novels on this list? Comic books are a different medium than prose novels, and all of the novels I recognize on this list are prose novels. If comic books can be put onto this list, than so can drama, and if drama is on here, so should Mamet. But anyway, this is the greatest comic book ever blah blah blah.

White Noise by Don DeLillo
Never read it, but what little DeLillo I have read, it seems okay.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Never read it, not interested.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
I almost read this for school, but opted out of it. I like Pride and Prejudice, though.

So that's the list. Now where do I stand with how many I've read? Am I a genius, or am I pathetic?

Oy. Only 31 novels have I read on this list. For those of you in the audience bad with math, that's thirty one percent. Over 60 percent of the novels on the list have been untouched by me.

Is that sad? I think not. It's not like I haven't read a lot of books in my lifetime. And this list only touches up to 1923, leaving behind 5,000 years of literature. This list is also only concerned with English-language novels, leaving behind over six billion other languages. This list is a small sampling of English-language literature, let alone of history or the world. I don't feel ashamed that I haven't read it all. Mayhap I will. I can imagine that this list is a starting point for me, to fill in the gaps. But there's problems.

The other thing that bugs me about this list is the heavy focus on the Western world. Australia and Africa are barely represented on this list. In fact, I count only two Australian books. Where's Peter Carey? Canada is also very minimally represented - I count one. I can't believe that Robertson Davies' Fifth Business isn't on here.

Also, where's John Dos Passos? Where's Alfred Bester? Where's Bret Easton Ellis? Where's John Irving? Where's Tom Wolfe?

This list is very safe - there's not a lot of daring choices on here, such as Ellis or Bester. The problem with counting only 100 novels is that you have to stick with the safe choices.

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