Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1952

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Poll Results

OptionVotes
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 12
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White 4
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor 3
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson 2
Mount Analogue by René Daumal 1
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym 1
The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway 1
Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman 1
East Of Eden by John Steinbeck 1
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut 1
The Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola 1
Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata 1
The Bridge Over The River Kwai by Pierre Boulle 0
Les Deux Étendards by Lucien Rebatet 0
Zone Of Emptiness by Hiroshi Noma 0
The Passionate Heart by Béatrix Beck 0
Spark Of Life by Erich Maria Remarque 0
All That Remains by Butchi Babu 0
The Financial Expert by R.K. Narayan 0
Unto A Good Land by Vilhelm Moberg 0
The Sun's Seventh Horse by Dharamvir Bharati 0
The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino 0
The Dark Angel by Mika Waltari 0
Fable For Another Time by Louis-Ferdinand Céline 0
The Iron Candlestick by Dimitar Talev 0
Leaves For The Burning by Mervyn Wall 0
The Life Of Arseniev by Ivan Bunin 0
The Scarlet City by Hella S. Haasse 0
The Best Butter by Jean Dutourd 0
Les Animaux dénaturés by Vercors 0
The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis 0
Spring Fire by Marijane Meaker 0
The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith 0
Last Seen Wearing... by Hillary Waugh 0
The Far Hills by Brian Cleeves 0
The Groves Of Academe by Mary McCarthy 0
Go by John Clellon Holmes 0
People Of The Deer by Farley Mowat 0
The Natural by Bernard Malamud 0
Beat Not The Bones by Charlotte Jay 0
The Borrowers by Mary Norton 0
Testimonies by Patrick O'Brian 0
The Sound Of His Horn by Sarban 0
Men At Arms by Evelyn Waugh 0
Marta Quest by Doris Lessing 0
A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin 0
Lieutenant Hornblower by C.S. Forester 0
The West Pier by Patrick Hamilton 0
A Buyer's Market by Anthony Powell 0
Hemlock And After by Angus Wilson 0


Daniel_Rf, Monday, 22 March 2021 11:53 (three weeks ago) link

This has to be Invisible Man - a powerful and often depressing novel about race in America that is also endlessly inventive in its style and tone. Sad Ellison didn't do that much after it, but also kinda makes sense, like he just poured everything into this major work. Also a debut novel!

I remember feeling a strong need to wash after reading The Killer Inside Me, this is not meant as a judgement on the book either way.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 22 March 2021 11:56 (three weeks ago) link

surprised at how many of these I have read (6 - compared to 0 for several years in the 40s)

Bastard Lakes (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Monday, 22 March 2021 11:57 (three weeks ago) link

This is one of those tough ones with a few very dear books to me. Kneejerk and probably correct choice is Invisible Man but I have much love for Go and need to think about the whole list a bit more

scamp til you're damp (Noodle Vague), Monday, 22 March 2021 12:26 (three weeks ago) link

Lot of good ones here (Wise Blood, Charlotte’s Web, Old Man and the Sea, Price of Salt, Excellent Women, but it has to be Invisible Man.

horseshoe, Monday, 22 March 2021 13:00 (three weeks ago) link

Excellent Women would probably be my number 2.

horseshoe, Monday, 22 March 2021 13:01 (three weeks ago) link

Way too many I haven't read on this list, but it's gotta be Invisible Man.

pomenitul, Monday, 22 March 2021 13:20 (three weeks ago) link

east of eden was my first favorite book of all time!!! i haven't read it since. invisible man def the best thing i've read here. shout out to my man vasily grossman though (i haven't read stalingrad)

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Monday, 22 March 2021 14:15 (three weeks ago) link

Argh, this is a year full of books I should have read (either b/c they're "important" somehow or because they're on my never ending to-read list), but I've only actually read the kidlit here, and none of them are particular favourites.

emil.y, Monday, 22 March 2021 18:00 (three weeks ago) link

The film of Wise Blood was my favourite film for some time, but I've still never got round to reading it. I'm so bad at keeping up.

emil.y, Monday, 22 March 2021 18:01 (three weeks ago) link

I haven't thought about Hemingway for a long time but a student teacher used a passage of The Old Man and the Sea the other day and I felt quite moved by it. Not sure I'd revisit but it has a particular energy I'd forgotten about. I'll probably go Wise Blood.

I need to sort my shit out and read Invisible Man.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 22 March 2021 18:24 (three weeks ago) link

I am committed to disliking Hemingway because of his whole deal as a person, and I can appreciate that he was a good writer without him being at all my thing, but Old Man in the Sea is perfect

horseshoe, Monday, 22 March 2021 18:25 (three weeks ago) link

Lol *and the sea

horseshoe, Monday, 22 March 2021 18:26 (three weeks ago) link

The student teacher was using the Old Man under the Sea so the kids could work up description using figurative language. I'm sure wholesome old Ernest would have loved it.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 22 March 2021 18:29 (three weeks ago) link

I've read six of these. All of them good to some degree. Invisible Man sits at the top.

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Monday, 22 March 2021 18:52 (three weeks ago) link

Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
The Borrowers by Mary Norton

I genuinely can't make a decision here, I might have to pick a short straw or something.

a sad robot dancing alone in the corner of a suburban disco (Matt #2), Monday, 22 March 2021 22:06 (three weeks ago) link

I might be tempted to vote for later Vonnegut, but I don't think he had really hit his stride yet with "Player Piano". "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is one of the better Narnia books, but it's not quite in the top tier for me, which would consist of "Wise Blood", "Invisible Man" and "Charlotte's Web".

o. nate, Monday, 22 March 2021 22:18 (three weeks ago) link

Due credit to a grad school professor who in the late '90s assigned Grossman when he was impossible to find outside a library.

I prefer other Pyms and lemonade. My favorites:

Wise Blood
Invisible Man
Charlotte’s Web
A Buyer's Market

But I may award this to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: the most consistently surprising Narnia novel, sustaining its Odyssey structure.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 22 March 2021 22:45 (three weeks ago) link

Hemlock And After by Angus Wilson -- decent novel, startlingly forthright about queerness for its time

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison -- stone-cold masterpiece

The Natural by Bernard Malamud -- I cannot stand baseball but I still found this gripping

The Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola -- another stone-cold masterpiece, and quite a unique work stylistically and with a vivid, strange worldview where the border between life and death is less significant than crossing the road

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor -- ANOTHER stone-cold masterpiece, fucking hell, 1952 was a good year

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White -- ANOTHER stone cold masterpiece, but this time, you know, for kids!

Go by John Clellon Holmes -- the only Beat novel I would unreservedly recommend to other humans

The Groves Of Academe by Mary McCarthy -- fun and bitchy

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson -- beautifully pitched bit of horribleness, one of his best books

The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway -- this is probably his best work, short enough to not show too many of his flaws, no female characters to be written about embarrassingly

The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith -- slightly uncharacteristic of her books plotwise, but a stylish minor masterpiece

Beat Not The Bones by Charlotte Jay -- actually really good crime novel about Australians in Papua New Guinea (then an Australian protectorate), very atmospheric and vividly drawn

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym -- one of her darker books, and all the better for it

The West Pier by Patrick Hamilton -- the first Gorse book, hugely funny and creepy

A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin -- interesting but dated interracial-romance-and-the-resulting-prejudices novel

Men At Arms by Evelyn Waugh -- the first Guy Crouchback novel, his most three-dimensional and likeable character, a genuinely excellent book

The Sound Of His Horn by Sarban -- lurid alternate-history Nazis-won novel about fascist having hunting parties where they chase naked women through the wilderness; better than this makes it sound

The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis -- one of the good Narnia books

Les Animaux dénaturés by Vercors -- weird but recommended little SF novel about bioethics

Mount Analogue by René Daumal -- unfinished, but a lot of fun; surrealist parody of Great Expedition accounts, to find a previously undiscovered mountain bigger than any other on the face of the Earth

The Financial Expert by R.K. Narayan -- Narayan was almost always quietly brilliant, as here

The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino -- man gets cut in half by a cannonball, both halves continue to lead their now separate lives; charming and clever

Normally I'd vote for Ellison, but Tutuola's book is such a unique and wonderful thing I have to go for that.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Monday, 22 March 2021 23:39 (three weeks ago) link

The Daumal is the one I want to read the most of this lot, tbh. At least partly b/c of another ilx0r's twitter handle.

emil.y, Monday, 22 March 2021 23:52 (three weeks ago) link

I only read it a few weeks ago, it was very enjoyable.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Tuesday, 23 March 2021 00:26 (three weeks ago) link

It’s a lot of fun, I heard of it first via Daniel Pinkwater recommending it in in Lizard Music.

JoeStork, Tuesday, 23 March 2021 01:02 (three weeks ago) link

I still wanna read these---as wiki sez:
Juneteenth is Ralph Ellison's second novel, published posthumously in 1999 as a 368-page condensation of over 2,000 pages written by him over a period of 40 years.[1] It was originally written without any real organization, and Ellison's longtime friend, biographer and critic John F. Callahan, put the novel together, editing it in the way he thought Ellison would want it to be written.

The fuller version of the manuscript was published as Three Days Before the Shooting... on February 2, 2010.
And Flying Home: and Other Stories and still haven't read the essays, Shadow and Act. But I'll start with Juneteenth.

dow, Tuesday, 23 March 2021 18:14 (three weeks ago) link

Flying Home is wonderful.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Tuesday, 23 March 2021 22:27 (three weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 00:01 (three weeks ago) link

Learned in the LRB that the happy ending of The Price Of Salt was editorial meddling and not Highsmith's initial intent.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 11:30 (three weeks ago) link

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

System, Thursday, 25 March 2021 00:01 (three weeks ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1953

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 25 March 2021 12:12 (three weeks ago) link


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