Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1957

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

hey hey

Poll Results

OptionVotes
On The Road by Jack Kerouac 5
Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov 4
The Baron In The Trees by Italo Calvino 3
La Jalousie by Alain Robbe-Grillet 3
The Comforters by Muriel Spark 1
Angel by Elizabeth Taylor 1
City Of Spades by Colin MacInnes 1
The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas 1
The Sandcastle by Iris Murdoch 1
The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness 1
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury 1
The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever 1
Second Thoughts by Michel Butor 1
A Houseful Of Love by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin 0
The Glass Bees by Ernst Junger 0
Justine by Lawrence Durrell 0
The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi 0
The Law by Roger Vailland 0
The Break by José Giovanni 0
Castle To Castle by Louis-Ferdinand Céline 0
My Mother's Castle by Marcel Pagnol 0
My Father's Glory by Marcel Pagnol 0
The Legend Of The Condor Heroes by Jin Yong 0
Homo Faber by Max Frisch 0
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak 0
That Awful Mess On Via Merulana by Carlo Emilio Gadda 0
Two Women by Alberto Moravia 0
A Choice Of Enemies by Mordecai Richler 0
Palace Of Desire by Naguib Mhafouz 0
Under The Ribs Of Death by John Marlyn 0
No-No Boy by John Okada 0
The Flower Drum Song by C.Y. Lee 0
Fire, Burn! by John Dickson Carr 0
Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith 0
A Death In The Family by James Agee 0
The Temple Of Gold by William Goldman 0
The Mystic Masseur by V.S. Naipaul 0
Down In The City by Elizabeth Harrower 0
Odd Girl Out by Ann Bannon 0
The Short Reign Of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck 0
The Town by William Faulkner 0
Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd by Islwyn Ffowc Elis 0
Wasp by Eric Frank Russell 0
The Hireling by L.P. Hartley 0
The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier 0
Room At The Top by John Braine 0
The Ordeal Of Gilbert Pinfold by Evelyn Waugh 0
The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham 0
At Lady Molly's by Anthony Powell 0
The Divine And The Decay by Bill Hopkins 0


Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 8 April 2021 10:28 (one week ago) link

Other notable works from this year: Atlas Shrugged (lol); Flowers of Fire, a Korean anti-communist novel by Seonu Hwi; Falconer's Lure, a falconry-based novel by Antonia Forest; Fred Hoyle's debut The Black Cloud; Philip José Farmer's The Green Odyssey; Jack Vance's Big Planet; A.E. van Vogt's Empire Of The Atom; Philip K. Dick's Eye In The Sky; T.H. White's The Master; Oms En Série by Stefan Wul, the source for Fanastic Planet; James Gould Cozzen's By Love Possessed; Pearl S. Buck's Letter From Peking; a bunch of novels that are better known for their movie versions - Merriam Modell's Bunny Lake Is Missing, Kyle Onstott's Mandingo, Alistair MacLean's The Guns Of Navarone and Nevil Shute's On The Beach; as well as entries by habituées Agatha Christie (4.50 From Paddington), John D. MacDonald (The Executioners), Jean Giono (The Straw Man) and Ian Fleming (From Russia With Love).

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 8 April 2021 10:37 (one week ago) link

I don't think anyone has time for On The Road anymore, and probably rightfully so, but I will confess to a certain lingering affection, memories of reading it as a teen starting to test what these Getting Drunk and Going Out things were all about.

Iris Murdoch's The Sandcastle is like a quintessential mid-century middle-class English novel, not bad for it either. My fav detail is that the loveless couple managed to find a common cause in a (dead by the time the novel starts) pet dog, but not in their children.

Hate Baron In The Trees, a maudlin piece of kitsch that for some reason gets recommended to ppl who enjoy Eco and my beloved Borges. Damn thing reads like a schlager lyric.

I haven't read the two Pagnols, but have seen the films and am pretty sure that what I loved about them comes from the novels. Tore up a little at the narrator's final statement that life is basically a series of griefs and disappointments punctuated by short bursts of happiness, but that we don't need to tell the children that.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 8 April 2021 10:44 (one week ago) link

Lol I love Baron in the Trees and was specifically waiting for it to show up so I could vote for it! no accounting for taste I guess

Mark E. Smith died this year. Or, maybe last year. (bernard snowy), Thursday, 8 April 2021 12:10 (one week ago) link

Write-in vote for Falconer's Lure by Antonia Forest.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 8 April 2021 13:37 (one week ago) link

Two Women by Alberto Moravia
That Awful Mess On Via Merulana by Carlo Emilio Gadda
The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness
The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas
The Glass Bees by Ernst Junger
La Jalousie by Alain Robbe-Grillet

I think the one I like the most is The Fish can Sing. It's a weird novel about growing-up in a fishing village among eccentrics and erm, Iceland's most famous singer.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 8 April 2021 14:01 (one week ago) link

Castle To Castle by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

This is the 1st part of Celine's great last Trilogy but I'll go for Laxness.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 8 April 2021 14:03 (one week ago) link

Lol I love Baron in the Trees and was specifically waiting for it to show up so I could vote for it! no accounting for taste I guess

To be fair part of my animosity came from getting Calvino recommended as a puzzle master and a guy who likes to play with formal elements, which is my kind of thing and which I gather he does do in other works, but it sure ain't Baron In The Trees.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 8 April 2021 14:06 (one week ago) link

The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever

outing myself as someone who loves both wapshot novels, even though they're just like short story sequences about a single cheever-esque family

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Thursday, 8 April 2021 14:19 (one week ago) link

i've read on the road several times. never again, i've moved on

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Thursday, 8 April 2021 14:20 (one week ago) link

Butor, hands down. Currently the most underrated Nouveau Roman-adjacent writer, it seems.

pomenitul, Thursday, 8 April 2021 14:21 (one week ago) link

My choice is absolutely 100% Jealousy. The perspective completely floored me.

Not read Butor but sounds intriguing, will be going on my list.

emil.y, Thursday, 8 April 2021 17:10 (one week ago) link

I did finally make time for On The Road a few years ago, long after I'd passed through its commonly assumed most likely demographic, and was immediately gratified by the whiff of autumn, as narrator starts by looking back on those crazy days, taking off from a barely indicated period of loss, careening through reunions with friends and others, also introducing us to people, places and things new to him, an adapted, hacked vehicle rolling by, for inst---and tripping on various jazz experiences (the latter comprising first published chunk of this book, I think): the most observational bits, even if sloshed by his excitement, as he flashes back, are the most winning, if penultimately problematic, as he and Dead have a living vision of the spiritual Mexicans, man!(Narrator's already supposedly lived and worked with Chicanos, because he *is* one, cosmically). But the ending is poignantly on the brink of more yo-yoing, as Pynchon puts in V, but the Road headz got here there everywhere and nowhere, man, first and then some. There's a conveyed, almost implicit, sense of the cost of this way of life and what a pain in the ass these hipsters can be, incl. dudes for chicks, but sorry he can't slow down that much, even now.
So: best remembered of these, and remarkable and warts and all I voted for it,

dow, Thursday, 8 April 2021 17:44 (one week ago) link

He and *Dean*

dow, Thursday, 8 April 2021 17:45 (one week ago) link

the stronger parts of on the road in my memory are the ones where dean/cassady is really present, allowing kerouac to invade the excitability with an uncomfortable melancholy

i read it long before i was out but i also assume it's even gayer than i remember

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Thursday, 8 April 2021 17:48 (one week ago) link

Agree on both parts of that post, though I got *some* uncomfortable melancholy from the get-go and all through. Moriarty is def the best character, which may go w observational strengths.

I remember liking City of Spades, but can't bring it into focus---would probably have voted A Death of the Family, but have only gotten as for as the beginning, which inspired a Samuel Barber composition----based on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, his screenplay for Night of the Hunter and Agee on Film (incl. all those New Republic reviews young Jack might have read, while smoking some Krupa between or instead of classes at Columbia), he seems like a smarter, more talented, and even more of a boldly page-roving Kerouac--in the same family, that is).

dow, Thursday, 8 April 2021 18:04 (one week ago) link

Maybe Agee was more of an on-track Kerouac---it's hard to say how smart and talented Jack really was; so much has been published since his death, not to mention alll those previous books, that I can't really evaluate him, but was especially struck by some early, elegiac, elegant, no BS diary passages in The New Yorker however many years ago it was, from long before he seemed to be writing for an audience, although in OTR he still seemed to e thinking out loud, talking to a single visitor.

dow, Thursday, 8 April 2021 18:15 (one week ago) link

(Diary passages among the posthumous publications, that is.)

dow, Thursday, 8 April 2021 18:17 (one week ago) link

Going from this to the just-revived Roky Erickson thread, was struck by all of thee lyrics these are from, while flashing back to the OTR reading experience:

Twice born gypsies care and keep
The nowhere of their former home
They slip inside this house as they pass by.
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
You think you can't, you wish you could
I know you can, I wish you would
Slip inside this house as you pass by.
Four and twenty birds of Maya
Baked into an atom you
Polarized into existence
Magnet heart from red to blue
To such extent the realm of dark
Within the picture it seems true
But slip inside this house and then decide.
The center of this house will never die.
There is no season when you are grown
You are always risen from the seeds you've sown
There is no reason to rise alone
Other stories given have sages of their own.
Draw from the well of unchanging
hree-eyed men are not complaining.
They can yo-yo where they will
They slip inside this house as they pass by.
Don't pass it by.

dow, Thursday, 8 April 2021 18:37 (one week ago) link

Spark hit her stride in The Comforters and started off on a long series of delightful, acerbic, masterly novels. It's my favorite on this list.

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Thursday, 8 April 2021 18:42 (one week ago) link

What did she publish before The Comforters?

It Is Dangerous to Meme Inside (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 8 April 2021 21:10 (one week ago) link

From wikipedia: "Spark began writing seriously, under her married name, after World War II, beginning with poetry and literary criticism. In 1947 she became editor of the Poetry Review."

The Comforters was her first novel. iirc, she got some assistance in finding a publisher for it from Graham Greene.

sharpening the contraindications (Aimless), Friday, 9 April 2021 20:50 (six days ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 11 April 2021 00:01 (four days ago) link

Lol I love Baron in the Trees and was specifically waiting for it to show up so I could vote for it! no accounting for taste I guess

― Mark E. Smith died this year. Or, maybe last year. (bernard snowy)

yup, this. next contender would be On The Road but the Calvino is perfect.

"Gaspar? No way." (sleeve), Sunday, 11 April 2021 00:12 (four days ago) link

in fact I would argue that the Calvino novel is a prescient vision of ecodefense:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Butterfly_Hill

"Gaspar? No way." (sleeve), Sunday, 11 April 2021 00:18 (four days ago) link

I feel I should put in a good word for Pnin before the poll closes. Lolita & Pale Fire tend to get most of the attention, but having re-read Pnin recently (after Galya Dinant's great Pniniad) it really is wonderful, maybe Nabokov's most touching. I just have to remember poor Pnin's "I haf nofing left, nofing, nofing", or him booting the football away when he thinks his son wouldn't want the gift, or that shocking scene remembering his dead fiancé just when he's in a state of well-being - and it gets to me.

And how about this - just the other day I was trying to remember where it was from, but of course it could only be Nabokov. After Pnin has been disappointed in meeting his ex-wife to find she only wants a little money:

'Incidentally,' she said ... 'you know, Timofey, this brown suit of yours is a mistake: a gentleman does not wear brown'.

He saw her off, and walked back through the park. To hold her, to keep her - just as she was - with her cruelty, with her vulgarity, with her blinding blue eyes ... All of a sudden he thought: If people are reunited in Heaven (I don't believe it, but suppose), then how shall I stop it from creeping upon me, over me, that shriveled, helpless, lame thing, her soul?

He seemed to be quite unexpectedly (for human despair seldom leads to great truths) on the verge of a simple solution ... but was interrupted by an urgent request. A squirrel ... the intelligent animal had climbed up to the brim of a drinking fountain and, as Pnin approached, thrust its oval face ... Pnin understood ... eyeing him with contempt, the thirsty rodent ... went on drinking for a considerable time. 'She has fever, perhaps,' thought Pnin, weeping quietly and freely and all the time politely pressing the contraption.

JifMoose, Sunday, 11 April 2021 16:12 (four days ago) link

I should vote for the Calvino, could go for Angel, though it's second-tier Elizabeth Taylor, but I'm feeling sentimental so will chuck a vote to On the Road.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Sunday, 11 April 2021 19:56 (four days ago) link

Pnin quote is amazing, thanks!

dow, Sunday, 11 April 2021 20:04 (four days ago) link

There were some other contenders but ultimately Pnin got my vote.

It Is Dangerous to Meme Inside (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 11 April 2021 22:00 (four days ago) link

I don’t wanna be a Pniniad no more.

It Is Dangerous to Meme Inside (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 11 April 2021 22:05 (four days ago) link

Have hardly read anything on this list, not even On the Road. The Glass Bees looked fascinating based on the description and seemed to always be on the verge of becoming interesting but bored me throughout. Would write in Moominland Midwinter.

JoeStork, Sunday, 11 April 2021 22:40 (four days ago) link

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

System, Monday, 12 April 2021 00:01 (three days ago) link

The only ones I've read are "On the Road" and "The Fish Can Sing". I still have fond memories of reading "On the Road" though it seems to be a bit out of fashion these days.

o. nate, Monday, 12 April 2021 01:21 (three days ago) link

I would have voted for Moominland Midwinter, shoutout to JoeStork there

"Gaspar? No way." (sleeve), Monday, 12 April 2021 01:43 (three days ago) link

good top four

Brad C., Monday, 12 April 2021 01:52 (three days ago) link

slightly surprised the wyndham got nothing.

koogs, Monday, 12 April 2021 05:47 (three days ago) link

The moomins omission is 100% wikipedia's fault - if it had been on their list you better believe I'd have included it and voted for it too.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 12 April 2021 09:42 (three days ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1958

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 12 April 2021 10:28 (three days ago) link

Maybe I should have voted for The Glass Bees instead of Pnin to mix it up. But I couldn't, not really.

It Is Dangerous to Meme Inside (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 14 April 2021 02:24 (yesterday) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.