My Favorite Novels

Mantlepiece Collection

Maybe it was reading The Telegraph’s list of greatest novels of the 21st Century (we’re only 15 years in, people!) that I found to be absolute bollocks…

Or maybe it was looking back on a post I wrote in this blog’s infancy (pre-spin, when it was just davethenovelist) where I listed what I proclaimed to be the Greatest Novels of All Time (which of course meant the best novels I had read up to that point in my life) and realizing how much I had read in the seven years since then and thinking about what that list would look like today.  How many new entries?  What would still make the cut, and would the passage of time have colored my opinion on significance, fondness and ordering?

Or maybe it was watching “The English Patient” episode of Seinfeld for the umpteenth time on TV tonight that got me thinking…damn, The English Patient…Ondaatje…that has to be one of the greatest novels ever, right?  (Spoiler alert: IT IS!)

At any rate…I’m keeping this one simple and asking you to share your own lists. 

What are your favorite novels?

Here are mine: Continue reading

Cold Comfort Reading with Canada, Deep Winter and The Kept

 

It’s been a brutally cold, occasionally wet, often frozen winter here in my next of the woods, though a far cry from the polar vortexed permanently deep snow-covered winter of last year.  It’s made for a great winter for reading…and my chapped hands found their way to three novels cold as ice, though only one, The Kept, haunts the imagination.

Winter Books - Canada

Things started out with a banal, arduous thud that was the literary equivalent of traipsing 100 miles uphill in three feet of snow to the top of a mountain with a horrible view.  Richard Ford’s Canada is a long drawn out affair (it’s not until about 300 pages through the 500+ page tome that we actually get to Canada) that tells you exactly what happened in the very first sentence and then proceeds to elaborate on it ad nauseam in repetitive memoir style. Twin brother and sister, Dell and Bern, at age 15, are thrown into a maelstrom after their previously thought to be stable and clear-headed parents rob a bank in a pathetic act of desperation. Bern runs away, while Dell (our narrator) is shuffled off to the middle of nowhere Canada where he meets some unsavory characters and witnesses a murder. Getting to the bank robbery was painful and lacked even a modicum of suspense, and I don’t know how many times the narrator had to remind us of his naivety (while Bern was more wild and worldly) as he goes from one horribly boring existence to the next shaped by brief criminal acts and the occasional weirdo. I’ve never met more boring characters or read about more bloodless crimes. Continue reading

Go With the Flow and Pay as You Go

 

With the ever increasingly stressful (and quite frankly, unnecessary) holiday season finally over, we can all now look forward to 2008.  “Go with the flow and pay as you go” is my annoying little motto for the year.  It’s a mantra I can repeat internally to remind myself to relax more.

I’m not much for the traditional resolutions (or “to do” lists) but here’s a quick rundown of what I plan to accomplish in this new year besides the ever present desire to travel more:

1.  Finish the 1st draft of my next novel.  I’m about 2/3 of the way there after starting in May of 2007.  What I do with it after that is anyone’s guess.

2.  Lay down the dough for that Rosetta Stone software so I can become fluent in French (finally).

3.  Buy a digital camera and perhaps take a photography class.

4.  Vote in November.  Dubya’s days are numbered.  Let’s not screw this one up like we did the last two presidential elections.

Here’s the list of books I plan to read in the early months of 2008 as winter is a great time to get lost in some heavy literature.  Hopefully these classics will wipe away the bad taste left in my mouth from Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker, which is a book so mind numbingly awful I don’t even know how to describe it.  Mister B. Gone is the type of “curiosity” I was forced to read to pass the time in the wake of the writers’ strike and no late night talk shows.  So thank you Letterman and Conan for returning this week so I can fall asleep laughing again!  Oddly, though, I was glad to have read it, because sometimes you have to read the garbage to appreciate the classics more and to know what to avoid in your own writing.  There’s nothing like gaining a little perspective.

TO READ THIS WINTER: 

Dubliners by James Joyce (his short story collection)

Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway