Not Yet Read


I’ve never heard of John Crowley but it seems I should have.

 

Genre Trouble

What stands between John Crowley and a serious literary reputation?

James Hynes

For the most part, the American novelist John Crowley flies under both the commercial and critical radars, as invisible to most readers as he is to most critics. You don’t have to look very hard to see why this should be. Despite their high literary gloss and intellectual sophistication, his first three novels were originally published as genre fiction: The Deep (1975) is a gothic fantasy reminiscent of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy; Beasts (1976) is a science fiction romance about the genetic recombination of humans and animals, sort of a cross between The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Wind in the Willows; and Engine Summer (1979), Crowley’s most impenetrable work, is an after-the-apocalypse narrative. In an attempt to give it mainstream credibility, some admiring critics have called his next book, Little, Big (1981), a magic realist novel. But Little, Big, his best known work and arguably his masterpiece, is unequivocally a fantasy novel, albeit a highly idiosyncratic one. Much of the book reads like a straight literary narrative–it is as compelling a portrait of a long marriage as any I know–but it is based on the Sufi fable The Parliament of the Birds and uses the themes and archetypes of Northern European folklore. In other words, it is a long, gorgeously written, picaresque family saga, in the last fifty pages of which all the major characters, with one heartbreaking exception, turn into fairies.

 

Advertisements

I’d heard of the movie Atonement but knew nothing about McEwan.  If my life lasts long enough, I may get to one of these recommended five.

I’ve never read any Grisham. Just never appealed. He is a fan of one of my least favorite authors -James Lee Burke – which doesn’t increase my desire.

Author Rating: Not Yet Read

The Betrothed (Not Yet Read)

“Italy’s greatest novel and a masterpiece of world literature, The Betrothed chronicles the unforgettable romance of Renzo and Lucia, who endure tyranny, war, famine, and plague to be together. Published in 1827 but set two centuries earlier, against the tumultuous backdrop of seventeenth-century Lombardy during the Thirty Years’ War, The Betrothed is the story of two peasant lovers who want nothing more than to marry. Their region of northern Italy is under Spanish occupation, and when the vicious Spaniard Don Rodrigo blocks their union in an attempt to take Lucia for himself, the couple must struggle to persevere against his plots—which include false charges against Renzo and the kidnapping of Lucia by a robber baron called the Unnamed—while beset by the hazards of war, bread riots, and a terrifying outbreak of bubonic plague. First and foremost a love story, the novel also weaves issues of faith, justice, power, and truth into a sweeping epic in the tradition of Ivanhoe, Les Misérables, and War and Peace. Groundbreakingly populist in its day and hugely influential to succeeding generations, Alessandro Manzoni’s masterwork has long been considered one of Italy’s national treasures. Translated by Archibald Colquhoun.”

Project Gutenberg has The Betrothed available to read online or for download to Kindle.

Author Rating: Not Yet Read

Charlie Pierce introduces an author new to us — Charles Portis, author of five novels:

  • 1966:  Norwood
  • 1968:  True Grit
  • 1979: The Dog of the South
  • 1985: Masters of Atlantis
  • 1991: Gringos

Additionally, a number of Portis’ essays and short fiction pieces have been published in one volume titled Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany.

You can read Portis’s The Forgotten River, one of the essays in Escape Velocity, here.

Author Rating: A

Noon Wine (read 3/26/2013) Recommended

This is a wonderful short novel about life. Mr. Thompson is a not very successful dairy farmer in south Texas, barely eking out a living for his wife and three young sons. Just about every job needing to be done on the farm is beneath him, and the farm is decaying more and more until Mr. Helton, a Scandinavian from North Dakota, turns up looking for work. Initially unsettling to the family because he hardly says a word, Mr. Helton doesn’t have Thompson’s prejudice against doing any job that needs doing and turns the farm around. After nine years of quiet steady living, Mr. Helton’s past shows up.

Ship of Fools (read 1981)

Katherine Anne Porter has a wonderful ability to bring characters to life. This, her masterpiece, brings forth a boatload.

Author Rating: A

In Cold Blood (read 1980 something) Recommended

A non-fiction book published in 1966 detailing the 1959 murders of Herbert Clutter, a successful farmer from Holcomb, Kansas, his wife, and two of their four children. It is an examination of the complex psychological relationship between two parolees who together commit a mass murder as well as an exploration ofthe lives of the victims and the effect of the crime on the community where they lived.

La Côte Basque 1965 (not yet read)

This looks like fun.

… the first installment of Truman Capote’s planned roman à clef, Answered Prayers, dropped like a bomb on New York society when it appeared in Esquire’s November 1975 issue. Iced out by the friends he’d skewered—such of his “swans” as Slim Keith, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Babe Paley—Capote began his slide into an early grave.

Other Voices, Other Rooms (not yet read)

A semi-autobiographical novel about a 13-year-old boy.

Next Page »