Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1936

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Poll Results

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner 4
War With The Newts by Karel Čapek 3
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes 2
Keep The Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell 2
A Gun For Sale by Graham Greene 1
The Road To Los Angeles by John Fante 1
The Island Of Sheep by John Buchan 1
Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque 1
Confessions Of A Murderer by Joseph Roth 1
Coolie by Mulk Raj Anand 0
The Brothers Ashknenazi by Israel Joshua Singer 0
If I Were A Boy by Haki Stërmilli 0
How The Steel Was Tempered by Nikolai Ostrovsky 0
Dumb Luck by Vũ Trọng Phụng 0
The Stranger by Maria Kuncewiczowa 0
Character by Ferdinand Bordewijk 0
Cristina Guzmán by Carmen de Icara 0
A Woman's Burden by Mikheil Javakhishvili 0
El Jetón by Arturo Ambrogi 0
The Wings by Yi Sang 0
The Ring Is Closed by Knut Hamsun 0
Sea Of Death by Jorge Amado 0
Sangnoksu by Sim Hun 0
Names In Marble by Albert Kivikas 0
Miss Christina by Mircea Eliade 0
Mint Alley by C.L.R. James 0
With Sails Unfurled by Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana 0
Proprietress of Kanuru by Kanuru Heggaditi 0
Bread And Wine by Ignazio Silone 0
My Mother Gets Married by Moa Martinson 0
The Big Money by John Dos Passos 0
The Tallons by William Marsh 0
Locos by Felipe Alfau 0
The Lady In The Morgue by Jonathan Latimer 0
Drums Along The Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds 0
Katrina by Sally Salminen 0
Jungfrau by Dymphna Cusack 0
The Gilt Kid by James Curtis 0
The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie 0
Agents And Patients by Anthony Powell 0
Eyeless In Gaza by Aldous Huxley 0
Mephisto by Klaus Mann 0
The Island Of The Mighty by Evangeline Walton 0
Leather-Nose by Jean de la Varende 0
Joy Of Man's Desiring by Jean Giono 0
The Diary Of A Country Priest by Georges Bernanos 0
Death On Credit by Louis-Ferdinand Céline 0
Lightbody On Liberty by Nigel Balchin 0
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier 0
The Dark Frontier by Eric Ambler 0

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 25 January 2021 14:10 (four months ago) link

Three Comrades for me. Maria Remarque's Weimar books felt very relateable to me in post-2008 Portugal.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 25 January 2021 14:12 (four months ago) link

I could've included both Gone With The Wind and Ayn Rand's debut in this for the lols, btw

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 25 January 2021 14:13 (four months ago) link

Really hard to choose between War With the Newts and Absalom, Absalom!

Went War With the Newts because it's the most amazingly prescient satire about (among other things) human industry leading to catastrophic sea level rise. Just a great, weird, funny, angry book, and frighteningly accurate about how people react to what's happening.

Lily Dale, Monday, 25 January 2021 17:03 (four months ago) link

This is Nightwood vs The Diary of a Country Priest for me, probably the former.

pomenitul, Monday, 25 January 2021 17:04 (four months ago) link

I need to revisit Nightwood. Amazing writing but I struggled with it from the beginning, in her portrayal of the Jewish character - there's obviously sympathy for the outsider, which made me initially okay with it, but in the end it still felt uncomfortably like racism. I never felt the same way about Leo Bloom: despite the oscillation between Joyce's characters as avatars and humans, he always lands on the side of the human. Barnes, I feel, ends up on the side of racial essentialism. This issue made me pretty unable to digest the rest of the book tbh.

emil.y, Monday, 25 January 2021 17:52 (four months ago) link

I felt the same way about Nightwood. I read it so long ago that I can't remember anything about it except the feeling that I was being attacked.

Lily Dale, Monday, 25 January 2021 18:38 (four months ago) link

I read Nightwood years ago and found it quite savage. Is there canine, ah, intimacy in the book, or am I thinking of something else?

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 25 January 2021 18:40 (four months ago) link

have only read "a gun for sale" by graham greene, so gave that a vote. not one of his literary books, one of his "entertainments", and entertaining enough it is

Fenners' Pen (jim in vancouver), Monday, 25 January 2021 20:48 (four months ago) link

Death On Credit by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

It may not be as accurate a translation of the original, but I always thought that the title Death on the Installment Plan was pure brilliance.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Monday, 25 January 2021 20:53 (four months ago) link

I had no idea CLR James wrote fiction (it's Minty Alley just fyi)

rob, Monday, 25 January 2021 21:05 (four months ago) link

I've read some pretty appealing descriptions of that lately, so was already thinking of reading it.
I'll go with Faulkner again, even though I don't understand something about this one(that I can't even sketch the path of) as well as I hope to---it's my personal Maltese Falcon to pursue.

dow, Monday, 25 January 2021 22:59 (four months ago) link

What about it are you trying to understand? (Not that I think I can answer - I read this book like fifteen years ago. I'm just curious.)

Lily Dale, Monday, 25 January 2021 23:06 (four months ago) link

I can't even put my finger on it well enough to say, that's what I meant by "can't even sketch the path of." But I'll get back on the trail sometime.

dow, Monday, 25 January 2021 23:19 (four months ago) link

Haven't read that much from this year, and I haven't read 'Nightwood' either. Will vote for John Fante, who's always a joy to (re-)read. Not his best, but 'Ask the Dust' won't stand a chance in 1939, so

A Scampo Darkly (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 26 January 2021 07:54 (four months ago) link

I know Orwell kind of hated it, but Keep the Aspidistra Flying was a truly transformative book for me. It shattered the delusions that attracted me to the idea I'd long romanticised of quitting my job to become an artist in search of some misguided notions of freedom and peace.

triggercut, Tuesday, 26 January 2021 11:46 (four months ago) link

I've read Diary of a Country Priest, and started to read Nightwood, but apparently I never made it to the introduction of the main character.
I read Bernanos after seeing Bresson's film, and somehow the extra detail in the book seemed superfluous, even though it existed before the movie. I also tried reading it in French and English simultaneously, but stopped after a few pages because I was debating the translation every few words.

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 26 January 2021 13:38 (four months ago) link

From the last chapter of War With the Newts. The author is talking to himself:

"I did what I could; I warned people in good time...You know what happened. Everybody always had a thousand perfectly sound economic and political reasons why this wasn't possible. I'm not a politician or an economist; how could I convince them? So what's to be done? The world will probably disintegrate and become inundated - but at least it will do so for universally accepted political and economic reasons, at least it will do so with the aid of science, engineering and public opinion, with the application of all human ingenuity! No cosmic catastrophe - just national, power-political, economic and other reasons. What can you do against that?"

and a bit later:

"Let me ask you this: do you know who even now, with one-fifth of Europe inundated, is supplying the Newts with high explosives and torpedoes and drills? Do you know who is feverishly working in laboratories night and day to discover even more efficient machines and substances to blow up the world? Do you know who is lending money to the Newts, who is financing this end of the world, this whole new Flood?"

"I do. Every factory in the world. Every bank. Every country."

"So there you are. If it were merely a case of Newts against people something might perhaps be done; but people against people - that's something you cannot stop."

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 26 January 2021 15:53 (four months ago) link

ugh, italics fail. War with the Newts.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 26 January 2021 15:54 (four months ago) link

wow. I'd probably eyeroll at those excerpts if they were from a 2021 novel but for 1936.....

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 26 January 2021 16:28 (four months ago) link

I read R.U.R. in something---maybe The Big Book of Science Fiction and omfg--gotta get more, thanks for the tip on this.

dow, Tuesday, 26 January 2021 22:59 (four months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 27 January 2021 00:01 (four months ago) link

I am a huge Capek stan. I can't think of anything I've read by him that I haven't liked, and that includes his book of gardening columns. He's best known for the sci-fi/futurist/satire thing, but he also has some great collections of slightly surreal short stories (Tales from Two Pockets probably a good place to start) and an amazing philosophical novel in three parts that's sometimes called Three Novels and sometimes the Noetic Trilogy.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 27 January 2021 00:47 (four months ago) link

Absalom, Absalom! easily, even though this is a great list. There is such an urgency in the prose—I devoured it in one sitting the first time I read it, which sounds insane because it is a dense and by design exhausting read, but that’s what happened.

treeship., Wednesday, 27 January 2021 01:16 (four months ago) link

Nightwood is also tremendous. Really quite visionary and insane—some of the descriptions I’ll never forget. This is the woman who is the object of so many others’ obsession:

The perfume that her body exhaled was of the quality of that earth-flesh, fungi, which smells of captured dampness and yet is so dry, overcast with the odour of oil of amber, which is an inner malady of the sea, making her seem as if she had invaded a sleep incautious and entire. Her flesh was the texture of plant life, and beneath it one sensed a frame, broad, porous and sleep-worn, as if sleep were a decay fishing her beneath the visible surface. About her head there was an effulgence as of phosphorous glowing about the circumference of a body of water - as if her life lay through her in ungainly luminous deteriorations - the troubling structure of the born somnambule

treeship., Wednesday, 27 January 2021 01:22 (four months ago) link

Absalom, Absalom! is one I kept thinking about during the Trump era, b/c Sutpen is such a Trump-like figure - an old man who's emotionally still a teenager, who's built this entire racist empire out of sheer sociopathic entitlement and an obsessive need to avenge his own perceived humiliation at the hands of a Black man.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 27 January 2021 03:03 (four months ago) link

That vision of the born somnambule (as if she had invaded a sleep incautious and entire) makes me think of someone I've known most of my life (not myself) bingeing and purging sleep----there's something to it beyond the literary, and that's what literature can deliver, at its best, or one of its best(s?)

dow, Wednesday, 27 January 2021 03:16 (four months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 28 January 2021 00:01 (four months ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1937

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 28 January 2021 17:09 (four months ago) link

Can't believe Death on Credit got no votes! I love the writing in Nightwood though Emily's post makes me want to revisit

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 2 February 2021 00:18 (four months ago) link

Missed this somehow. Probably would have went with Locos.

The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 5 February 2021 22:51 (four months ago) link

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