Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On My Shelf

Just finished A Novel Bookstore - which earlier, you'll recall, I was merely enjoying - and can now make my final recommendation, which is affirmative if somewhat qualified.

Do you know the premise? Two bibliophiles decide to put together a bookstore called "The Good Novel" in which they carry only wonderful fiction. They put together a top-secret panel of writers to choose the novels and create the most wonderful, well-edited store in the world. Then someone begins threatening the members of the secret committee...

Anyway, it's all terribly French and a thoroughly good read. I must say, though, that rather ironically, for a book explicitly against bad fiction, there were a touch of the Ayn Rands about it. Not the prose, but rather, the throngs of angry mediocrities who are threatened by intellectual purity and dead-set on subverting it at all costs who seem to populate the Objectivist universe. Oddly enough, I've never met a sinister, organized mediocrity in my life - or, at any rate, not such a self-aware one. But don't let that stop you; it was a real page-turner.

It got me thinking about "good" books, too. I recently bought that Robert Khan "Books" edition, which has a similar mission and has given me all kinds of good ideas. I'm always looking for recommendations and am excited to have been directed towards Mary Robinson's Why Did I Ever by one of the three people whose fiction recommendations I most trust.

If I had to make my own list, it might contain (besides some of the basics):

A Girl in Winter, Philip Larkin

The Summer Book, Tove Jansson

A Few Green Leaves, Barbara Pym

Up in the Old Hotel, Jospeh Mitchell

Here is New York, E.B. White

The Sea, The Sea, Iris Murdoch

The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald

...and I'll think about more! (I can tell you what would NOT be on mine: The Dud Avocado, The Golden Notebook or The Ginger Man!) I hope this gives you a few ideas; may I have a few in turn?


Jaime said...

The Clock Without Hands by Carson McCullers

The Easter Parade by Richard Yates (or his short stories, which are equally, unjustly unsung)

Voices from the Moon by Andre Dubus

Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

The Lives and Loves of Daisy And Violet Hilton, a story of conjoined twins by Dean Jensen

Sadie Stein Blog said...

Ooh, I have only read two of those...am adding them to my list right now! Thank you!

Jaime said...

The Hiltons biography is excellent: both lively and sad.

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