jenks

thread death
Having thought about this a bit my selection feels pretty English teacher-ish, which maybe I should not be surprised at.

Gatsby
Great Expectations
Madame Bovary (actually all of Flaubert/Stendhal/Balzac/Zola)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Pound's Cantos
Collected John Clare
The new Jonathan Bate edition of Shakespeare
Proust
Bracewell's England is Mine
The Rider by Tim Krabbe
oh... and The Canterbury Tales making 11

Lots I am sure I have missed out.
 

faustus

Well-known member
going for novels only

maybe....


celine - voyage au bout de la nuit (good to see it getting love in this thread)
william gaddis - the recognitions
pynchon - gravity's rainbow
philip k dick - martian time-slip
david foster wallace - infinite jest
jm coetzee - disgrace
dostoevsky - the devils
proust - du cote de chez swann
cormac mccarthy - blood meridian
moby dick
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
A lot of love for Gravity's Rainbow in this thread...or, as I like to call it, Gravity's Brain-Ow (also a good term for general relativity). I am highly ambivalent towards that book, although the great bits are really, really fucking great and I'm glad I read it.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Heh, is that the Tolkien version? I still have a massive (pre-)adolescent soft spot for TLOTR, though these days if pressed I'd have to say I prefer the beyond-beautiful slab of epic gothic insanity that is The Silmarillion. The new version of The Children Of Hurin that came out a couple of years ago is ace, too. Other good fantasy/sci-fi/horror: Dune (the first one, anyway), A Clockwork Orange - not really 'sci-fi' in that sense, but it's set in "the future", I guess - Lovecraft's The Colour Out Of Space and Pullman's HDM trilogy (OK, it's a "kid's" book, but I thought it rocked bells).

Other great stuff: Catch 22, Naked Lunch (the only Burroughs I've read yet, shamefully - ought to remedy that) and Paradise Lost. I also have memories of really enjoying Treasure Island as a kid, probably helped by the fact that it was illustrated by Ralph Steadman. Austerlitz was fantastic, too (big thanks to whoever suggested that). Auster's New York Trilogy. Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

Hmm, a bit canonical, all in all. :slanted:

As for non-fiction, Murray Gell-mann's The Quark And The Jaguar is amazing.
 
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jenks

thread death
Heh, is that the Tolkien version?
No - the original in that lovely wierd Middle English dialect. I'm really not into Tolkein at all - this poem really has nothing to do with elves etc. Apart from the tale it tells it sounds so great and pretty much unlike anything else out of that period (or later, for that matter).
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Heh, is that the Tolkien version?

No - the original in that lovely wierd Middle English dialect. I'm really not into Tolkein at all - this poem really has nothing to do with elves etc. Apart from the tale it tells it sounds so great and pretty much unlike anything else out of that period (or later, for that matter).

Oh, I think Tolkien's version is elf-free, it's just a translation, or rather modernisation, of the original, which I'd forgotten about. It's specifically a Midlands dialect, isn't it? Or rather 'Mercian', I guess.
 

BareBones

wheezy
what do you guys reckon of Dennis Cooper? my mate is obsessed by him and i've been thinking of reading something of his once i finish 2666.
 

slim jenkins

El Hombre Invisible
Sticking with fiction to try and make this easier - hah - it wasn't...but here goes...

Nova Express - William Burroughs (like someone else here I'd rather have all the works but this might just be my choice anyway if only for the opening 'Listen to my last words anywhere')

The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler (any Chandler would have sufficed too but this was the first I read it gets the nod...wit, style and the creation of the greatest gumshoe in literature...that unique combination borne of a classical education and outsider eye on American life)

Hunger - Knut Hamsun
Ask The Dust - John Fante (two great novels about writing, the struggle, starvation, love, life and everything)

Tropic Of Cancer - Henry Miller (out of favour and as far from PC thinking as you can get re sex but Miller was hugely influential and inspiring to me in his style, audacity, bravery and honesty)

The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M Cain (arch stylist - greasy, so hardboiled you'll break your teeth on this tale of a doomed affair...amazing)

The Heart Of The Matter - Graham Greene (could have picked any GG, my favourite English novelist...economy, insight & great storytelling...religion, philosophy, espionage, affairs of the heart...he covered it all)

A Confederacy Of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole ('comedy' not being my genre this is still one of the greats...as everyone seems to reckon...funny and tragic)

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess (genius wordplay and exploration of the 'youth problem' from such an original perspective...revisits still amaze me...and the film isn't bad either)

The Age Of Reason - Jean Paul Sartre (once upon a time when I was a socialist (ask your parents what they were!) this struck me as a crucial novel that combined philosophy & politics with my romantic view of Paris intellectuals...does anyone read sartre nowadays?)
 

zhao

there are no accidents
The Age Of Reason - Jean Paul Sartre (once upon a time when I was a socialist (ask your parents what they were!) this struck me as a crucial novel that combined philosophy & politics with my romantic view of Paris intellectuals...does anyone read sartre nowadays?)

this was great. the title referring to both the fallacies of our philosophical epoch and the absurd wars which take place in it, as well as the main character's struggle with "adult" responsibilities, torn between country, love, and longing for freedom.

i thought it was in every sense crucial reading a century later...

sartre was a great story teller. read a lot of him around 1990.
 

slim jenkins

El Hombre Invisible
this was great. the title referring to both the fallacies of our philosophical epoch and the absurd wars which take place in it, as well as the main character's struggle with "adult" responsibilities, torn between country, love, and longing for freedom.

i thought it was in every sense crucial reading a century later...
sartre was a great story teller. read a lot of him around 1990.

Did you nip into the future to read it? :D;) I read it in the early-80s...it fueled some kind of fantasy between my girlfriend and me that we were Simone D and JP...:slanted: Unfortunately I had no Big Idea about existence, God and self-determination...and couldn't write that well. Legend has it that when Charlie Parker met him Bird said: "I'm very glad to have met you. I like your playing very much."
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"The Heart Of The Matter - Graham Greene (could have picked any GG, my favourite English novelist...economy, insight & great storytelling...religion, philosophy, espionage, affairs of the heart...he covered it all)"
That's my favourite Graham Green novel as well. You're right with your description of him - economy would be the word I'd use as well.
I don't get Confederacy of Dunces at all though, well, I mean, I thought it was ok but so many people seem to see something in it that lifts it to another level whereas to me it was a mildly diverting and somewhat amusing tidbit.
 

crackerjack

Well-known member
That's my favourite Graham Green novel as well. You're right with your description of him - economy would be the word I'd use as well.
I don't get Confederacy of Dunces at all though, well, I mean, I thought it was ok but so many people seem to see something in it that lifts it to another level whereas to me it was a mildly diverting and somewhat amusing tidbit.

Think that's actually one of my least favourite. Everyone else tells me Greene's catholicism gives him depth, and I guess they're right, but the catholic guilt thing only takes me so far. Heart Of The Matter makes me think of Brief Encounter, with a bit more darkness. Though I was about 18 when I read it, which may not be ideal. Much prefer Burnt Out Case and The Comedians, with Brighton Rock and Honorary consul close behind. Can't argue with the description of him as England's finest, though - or the economy of language, though you might add graceful too.

CoD - gotta agree with Rich here. Found it really episodic, bit like a sitcom that didn't go anywhere. Basic set-up, and much of the detail very funny, but I don't think i even finished it. It was the favourite book of the bloke who lent it me - i failed to finish and then lost it. He still goes on about it.

Currently reading Master & Margarita by Bulgakov, which is extraordinary, though very oddly translated. surprised his name came up blank on the dissensus search engine.
 

four_five_one

Infinition
Currently reading Master & Margarita by Bulgakov, which is extraordinary, though very oddly translated. surprised his name came up blank on the dissensus search engine.

I love that book. It's the only book I've read then immediately read again. I'm not really a re-reader. It strikes me that if I were to make a list, most of the books would be what I read when I was fifteen or sixteen... Dostoevsky, Camus, Kurt Vonnegut, Murakami, Marquez etc. A lot of people probably enter a 'deep' stage at that point, when things things seem to cut that much closer, raw emotions...
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"Think that's actually one of my least favourite. Everyone else tells me Greene's catholicism gives him depth, and I guess they're right, but the catholic guilt thing only takes me so far. Heart Of The Matter makes me think of Brief Encounter, with a bit more darkness. Though I was about 18 when I read it, which may not be ideal. Much prefer Burnt Out Case and The Comedians, with Brighton Rock and Honorary consul close behind. Can't argue with the description of him as England's finest, though - or the economy of language, though you might add graceful too."
I see what you mean about the catholic thing - but isn't it the case that guilt is equally integral to Brighton Rock (and also The End of The Affair)? Comedians is also one of the best though I think.
 

slim jenkins

El Hombre Invisible
I've heard of people of who don't rate CoD either...but I've yet to hear of a book which everyone loves. I tried Bulgakov's supposed 'masterpiece' and didn't think it was that good.

I haven't read a bad or even mediocre novel by GG, though...which is some achievement re my reading experience.

I meant to include 'On The Road' but forgot (!)...then again, as with most I suspect, some favorites had to be left out. Yes, it's a teenage-life-changing cliche but it had a huge impact on me all those years ago and I still think a lot of the prose is powerful.

Funny novels which I've loved - Pt 2 in a series of 2: 'Fairy Tale Of New York' - JP Donleavy...I laughed out loud.
 
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