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Greatest Novel of All-Time

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by EStreetJoe, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I think so, too. I want to argue for "Abstinence Teacher" or "The Leftovers," but, ultimately, I think "Little Children" is best among them.

    Does "The Art of Fielding" deserve any consideration at all? "Everything Is Illuminated"? I was about to ask about "Motherless Brooklyn," but apparently it came out in the late '90s. I could have sworn ...

    I'm guessing, DD, that you don't like "Freedom." Or at least less than others. It's absence is conspicuous.
  2. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I liked Freedom a great deal as I read it. I'm mostly glad, though, that Franzen got over the fear of following The Corrections and wrote something again (he said he it took nine years to get over the anxiety of following The Corrections and one year to write Freedom).

    But as I've said here a couple times, I think Freedom was more a collection of set pieces than a true "novel." I also think the gimmick of Patti writing a manuscript to deal with her feelings at the behest of her therapist was a little silly. But it had a lot of great writing within and I certainly enjoyed it.

    I thought The Abstinence Teacher was one of the most unsatisfying books I've read I years. Not up to Perrotta's standards, IMO.
  3. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    I think you could make the case that if Franzen is our Tolstoy, Perrotta is our Chekhov.

    Of everything we've listed so far, I feel the greatest love for 'Middlesex,' greatest affection for 'Yiddish Polieman's Union,' greatest respect for 'Cloud Atlas,' and greatest admiration for 'The Corrections.'

    Still gotta be some more titles on the list.
  4. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    And the need-to-read list gets one longer ... ;)
  5. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    'The Road' is a clean KO over 'No Country For Old Men'? Or do both belong?
  6. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    A few more candidates to the Modern canon

    The Pale King
    Never Let Me Go
    No Country For Old Men
    Then We Came To the End (in retrospect this would make my original list)

    Books I haven't read but have seen people argue the merrits of:

    The Known World
    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
    The Plot Against America

    Books others would want that I'd argue against:

    Fortress of Solitude
  7. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I would definitely argue for The Road ahead of NCFOM. There is that preachy section in NCFOM about drugs being the cause of all the evil in the world that's a little clunky to me. I think The Road is tight and powerful and sad and hopeful all at once. You can read it in an afternoon. Watching McCarthy write in a restrained, economical style -- and arguably produce his second best book -- is impressive.
  8. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    In our 21st century category I'm going to throw in 'Train Dreams,' by Denis Johnson. And ask why no love for Pynchon's 'Against the Day'?

    And as a sidebar to the best postwar American novel debate, ask this: If 'The Things They Carried' goes in as a novel, what do we do with 'Jesus' Son'?

    And where's 'A Fan's Notes'? And Richard Ford? And James Salter?
  9. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Train Dreams has been on my "to read" list for a few months. Tree of Smoke, which I thought sucked, made me a little gunshy, which is is dumb because I love Jesus' Son and liked Angels a great deal. (Meh on Fiskadoro and bored to tears by Already Dead.)

    I think you could argue Jesus' Son as a novel. (Maybe.) Anytime you have a collection of stories that thread the same characters throughout them, even if they're not arranged in a linear way, I think it becomes a larger piece of work. There is a definite departure between what Johnson and O'Brien were doing and what Carver and Beattie and Munro and Wolff and others are doing.

    I feel like A Fan's Notes has to be considered a memoir, even if he did make half of it up. But I love that book so much. Some of Exley's descriptions of why football matters, and why it's so romantic to him, are (to me anyway) better than all the pap anyone ever wrote about baseball.

    Also, slightly related:

    YouTube Commenters Book Club discuss One Hundred Years of Solitude

  10. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

  11. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    There's no answer and everyone acknowledges that. If it hasn't been put out let me say Blood Meridian was a book that when I finished I was so happy to have read and genuinely moved that someone could write that sublimely.

    The Power and the Glory is a close second for me.
  12. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    In what world can we take credit for Vladimir Nabokov? Do we not get to take credit for ex-Patriot works? I think of The Sun Also Rises as a very American book.
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