Monday, January 28, 2008

Never read, indeed....

So, Tom wrote an interesting post today about the Modern Library's list of the top 100 novels of all time. While he openly disparages himself for having only read twelve of the books on the list, I've only read eleven-and-a-half. The half is because one of them (Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin) I've only read about half of, even though I've read that half, like, 3 times, and for some reason just can't finish the rest of it.

Also, the authors of my two favorite books (James Baldwin and Graham Greene) are represented on the list (and side by side!), but not for the books that I love the most, which, therefore, makes the list stupid. And predictable.

As far as the reader's list goes, I've read 17 of those, but I also think that list is bullshit, because the top 10 consists of nothing by Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard, and they aren't even real writers. I mean, I've read 3 of the Ayn Rand books (and enjoyed them all very much), but they're not novels, they're propaganda. Was this list put together by Republicans and Scientologists? But I was delighted to see Wise Blood by Flannery 'O Connor on the readers' list. But no mention of Capote on either list? Maybe they're just mad because In Cold Blood was responsible for starting the true-crime novel phenomenon. Elitists.

(Apropos to this post, which I failed to mention at the time, was that I told George he was The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, and he looked at me incredulously and said, "That's the meanest thing you've ever said to me." Which, I think might be the funniest thing he's ever said to me.)

How do you fare?


Tom Drew said...

Hey, thanks for the recognition! I was surprised you hadn't commented on my post, but this is even better.

Remember how long it took me to get through Go Tell It on the Mountain? Sheesh. But I'm sure glad it was on the list, since I could use the boost. (However, I agree that it shoudn't represent Baldwin on the list. It wasn't as good as Giovanni's Room, which is the only other one of his books that I've read.)

I had the same reactions to the readers' list as you did. Also, while I was equally thrilled by the inclusion of Wise Blood, it does draw attention to what I think makes the lists slightly unattractive. It would be nice if they'd made it a list of the best fiction, thus opening the door for collections of short stories. In that case, A Good Man Is Hard to Find would've been on there, and lord knows what else.

Finally, In Cold Blood pops up on the accompanying nonfiction list, at number 96. And I've read only one of those books, which is fine with me, since that list looks boring as all get-out.

ryan said...

Oh, right, it didn't even occur to me that In Cold Blood wouldn't qualify as a novel, since it's non-fiction. And everything else he wrote sucked. Except Breakfast at Tiffany's, but it's only, like, 5 pages.

I didn't see the non-fiction list. I'll have to check that out.

ryan said...

Funny, that. In my original post, I was also going to complain that there was no Tobias Wolff, even though his best book is a memoir, but there it was, This Boy's Life, on the non-fiction list. Hooray! His fiction is great, too.

Mandy said...

11 1/2 for me too. Did you look at the rival Radcliffe list? I'm at 20 1/2 there. Strangely, the 1/2 on each list is the same stupid book, Women in Love. God, that book was insufferable.

Tom Drew said...

That's three people who have mentioned Women In Love as an unfinishable book. What were the odds?

ryan said...

I'm 22 and a half on the Radcliffe list. Same half book as the other list. I like their list better.