Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1966

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Poll Results

OptionVotes
The Crying Of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon 11
Berg by Ann Quinn 3
Season Of Migration To The North by Tayeb Salih 3
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 2
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes 1
To Each His Own by Leonardo Sciasia 1
The Comedians by Graham Greene 1
A Hall Of Mirrors by Robert Stone 1
In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd 1
Valley Of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susann 1
Silence by Shusaku Endo 1
Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen 1
Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany 1
Casualties Of Peace by Edna O'Brien 0
Beyond Sleep by Willem Frederik Hermans 0
Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel by Anatoly Kuznetsov 0
Marks Of Identity by Juan Goytisolo 0
The Axe by Ludvík Vaculík 0
The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö 0
Verukal by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan 0
Death And The Dervish by Meša Selimović 0
The Doctor's Wife by Sawako Ariyoshi 0
Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima 0
Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado 0
The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa 0
Hell Has No Limits by José Donoso 0
Kinsman And Foreman by T.M. Aluko 0
A Man Of The People by Chinua Achebe 0
The Sins Of Appu's Mother by Thi Jaa 0
Turmoil In The Swaths by Boris Vian 0
The Lady In The Car With Glasses And A Gun by Sébastien Japrisot 0
Jubilee by Margaret Walker 0
The Concubine by Elechi Amadi 0
The Fixer by Bernard Malamud 0
Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn 0
Enemies: A Love Story by Isaac Singer 0
Black Money by Ross MacDonald 0
Shadow Dance by Angela Carter 0
The Only Son by John Munoyne 0
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein 0
Billion Dollar Brain by Len Deighton 0
Le Déluge by J.M.G. LeClézio 0
A Jest Of God by Margaret Laurence 0
Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me by Richard Farina 0
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys 0
The Time Of The Angels by Iris Murdoch 0
The Soldier's Art by Anthony Powell 0
Shooting Script by Gavin Lyall 0
Trawl by B.S. Johnson 0
Efuru by Flora Nwapa 0


Daniel_Rf, Monday, 10 May 2021 09:39 (four months ago) link

Sadly couldn't fit in Ursula K LeGuin's debut novel (don't worry, her more acclaimed work will deffo be on here), but thought I'd share the glory of its cover:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a9/RocannonsWorld.jpg

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 10 May 2021 09:41 (four months ago) link

Berg has already been listed btw

xyzzzz__, Monday, 10 May 2021 10:21 (four months ago) link

That's supposed to be Three, not Berg.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 10 May 2021 10:22 (four months ago) link

Valley of the Dolls or Silence, can't decide

Chickpeas, Scamps and Beeves (Noodle Vague), Monday, 10 May 2021 10:29 (four months ago) link

Ok. A nice enough year, although the Salih, Sciascia are the only ones I feel strong enough about (voting for the former). I think Rhys was nice but I did it wrong by reading it first. Same Pynchon. Three I remember as good but I want to read that one again.

Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
The Crying Of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Season Of Migration To The North by Tayeb Salih
Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima
To Each His Own by Leonardo Sciasia
Three by Ann Quin

xp

xyzzzz__, Monday, 10 May 2021 10:30 (four months ago) link

Wide Sargasso Sea or The Crying of Lot 49 for me. I read Beautiful Losers so you don't have to.

One thing I'm picking up from these is that I've read barely any Japanese literature.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 10 May 2021 11:20 (four months ago) link

SEASON OF MIGRATION

I also love Wide Sargasso Sea, but Season of Mogration to the North is a perfect novel and will fuck you up.

horseshoe, Monday, 10 May 2021 11:26 (four months ago) link

My pick is The Crying of Lot 49, a book I have read and re-read so many times that I couldn't begin to be objective about it.

I would like to hear from ilxors born outside the USA, as it has long been my suspicion that Pynchon reads very differently depending on your experiences with this country.

Mark E. Smith died this year. Or, maybe last year. (bernard snowy), Monday, 10 May 2021 13:09 (four months ago) link

Have read Lot 49 twice, the second time to see if I could figure out what I missed the first time. I couldn't. Definitely had the sense that there was something going on (in terms of themes, not plot) that was passing me by. My other experience with Pynchon is abandoning V halfway through after realising I had no fucking clue what was going on at any level so maybe he's just not for me.

I was born anxious, here's how to do it. (ledge), Monday, 10 May 2021 13:50 (four months ago) link

I have a reading of Lot 49 as allegorical of the USA "losing its men" (something Oedipa thinks at one point late in the book) during the 1960s; meaning, the Great Men of its past, whose greatness is called into question by a new fashion for critical archival rummaging (which I believe Oedipa is described as being especially qualified for by her education?); but also losing a younger generation of men to drugs, Peter Pan syndrome, esoteric hippie cult nonsense, and/or nihilism (including the socially acceptable nihilism of a nice peaceful suburban house that you pay for by solving rocket trajectories at your Yoyodyne cubicle).

Mark E. Smith died this year. Or, maybe last year. (bernard snowy), Monday, 10 May 2021 14:41 (four months ago) link

All of that---what I always took to be the good side of the 60s, in terms of fearless, relentless pushback, critique, revision (also re-vision, in this tale), blows of sorts against the empire---and the other stuff, although as I said re Gravity's Rainbow, you also get TP's sour and somewhat kneejerk hobbyhorse prematurely-aged hipstery-Calvinisty take on pop culture and distasteful Cold War boom tines---in retrpspect, not unlike the Clinton Bubble, with even longer legs, but with nasty shit that eventually popped it (LBJ's deficit re Southeastern Asian Wars usually credited w a major factor in bringing on an economic downturn from which the USA has neveer really recovered, comparing buying power of 50s-60s to every decade since, even allowing for the usual effects of inflation on COLA, or so I wuz taught in non-radical basic Econ courses).
So TP had something there, but also merged it to some extent with Mailer's more generalizing crackpot rants and Henry Miller's The Air-Conditioned Nightmare and a lot of curmudgeonly and predictable put-downs (not that hippies couldn't get righteous about plastic--Airplane's "Plastic Fantastic Culture" is a fun song though, and Pynchon can be great with the Antipop Pop: he's part of another dynamic tension of the 60s--and he's definitely on to (and was maybe the first literary exponent of?)the eerie attractions of conspiracy theorizing, theee current that takes so many past revelation---YES! And then what--?And of course, Oedipa is becoming aware of Those Who Have Come Before Her, and are still around---and the ending, which some thought unforgivably gimmicky, I thought was perfect, with an echo of doors closing, of Ruby/Oswald (for instance)...
But the book (which Pynchon reportedly didn't want published, at least not as a stand-alone story)is not for everybody, may seem too dated now (haven't re-read it in a long time) and indeed, in his intro to the 1984 collection of his apprentice fiction,Slow Learner, I believe TCOL49 is the one of which he said, "I seemed to have forgotten everything I knew about writing.") But in a tough year, and in memory, it still seems neck-and-neck with
Robert Stone's Hall of Mirrors, which is much more show-not-tell than younger-seeming Pynchon's venture: people are just bent here, and their faces are closer to the lens--but not like there's a lack of context: this is New Orleans, with a whiff of Oswald's time there x a stop om the way to "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" and "Desolation Row" and the presence of WUSA, a smoothly news-editing right-wing station (AM, so its penumbra spreads when the sun goes down)also booze and music and booze and luv and booze, and it seems more solid in my (old Southern somewhut post-bohemian) mind now, so I'll vote for it. Another tough year though, yeah.

dow, Monday, 10 May 2021 17:49 (four months ago) link

Easily Lot 49 for me -- never liked Pynchon this much again. But don't sleep on A Hall of Mirrors.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 10 May 2021 17:54 (four months ago) link

"Plastic Fantastic *Lov-ah*," that is, of course (sorry also for other typos). Mrs. Maas, on whom I had a respectful teen crush, now makes me think of Ada Byron Lovelace's prescient speculations and all the predominately female programmers of so many subsequent generations, weaving the lacy maths while so many manly engineers were mostly still otherwise engaged.

dow, Monday, 10 May 2021 17:55 (four months ago) link

Oh yeah, I also enjoyed Pynchon's intro to Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me--he and the author were roommates at Cornell, and kept in touch afterwards:think TP made it to the wedding that RF didn't, because fatal motorcycle crash)---more than the novel itself, which, even to not very mature teenboy me, seemed marred by arrested development sexist swagger (but he did live long enough to write some good songs).

dow, Monday, 10 May 2021 18:05 (four months ago) link

Too bad they didn’t double bunk with Lemmy and Van Morrison.
#OneThread

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 18:07 (four months ago) link

Sorry. Anyway, one great song he wrote is “Reno, Nevada,” sung here by Judy Dyble:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXgvNZdzYNw

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 18:09 (four months ago) link

And here by Sandy Denny, I assume:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vxG21Sv3H8

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 18:11 (four months ago) link

Oh yeah, that's one I was thinking of. And I don't even mind his very Folkie duets w Mimi.
I wish for a collection of Pynchon's guest prefaces, reviews, liner notes (for Spiked! The Music of Spike Jones for inst), but I guess a lot if not all of it's online somewhere, though at least some might be behind the New York Times paywall.

dow, Monday, 10 May 2021 18:12 (four months ago) link

Bruce Langhorne said some nice things about him, I thinkg.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 18:14 (four months ago) link

It seems like it some point he was some kind of callow, manipulative BS artist- he was friends with Dylan!- but later on maybe he acquired some more depth- he married Mimi!

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 18:15 (four months ago) link

Yeah---I also enjoyed David Hajdu's Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña(with substantial faxed input from Pynchon). He tried to be the Svengali for his first wife, Carolyn Hester, but it didn't go that well--for one thing, she wasn't up to his standards as a solo artist---but duets with Mimi were more satisfactory. (Marcus and xgau freaked out over what they took to be too much credit given to RF's early influence on Dylan, but seemed to me like he just encouraged D. to write more, and maybe turned him on to better weed).

dow, Monday, 10 May 2021 18:40 (four months ago) link

freaked out over what they took to be too much credit given *by Hajdu*, that is.

dow, Monday, 10 May 2021 18:41 (four months ago) link

I forgot he we married to Carolyn Hester. He's like his namesake, Richard Meyers, in his way with the ladies, I guess.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 18:45 (four months ago) link

Sorry for extra RONG commas!

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 18:46 (four months ago) link

extra, RONG

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 18:46 (four months ago) link

Heh, classic exchange between the two of us in every way.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 18:51 (four months ago) link

Richard HELL Myers, I take it you mean? What a colorful guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Fari%C3%B1a Correction: it wasn't a wedding---

On April 30, 1966, two days after the publication of his novel, Fariña attended a book-signing ceremony at a Carmel Valley Village bookstore, the Thunderbird. Later that day, while at a party to celebrate his wife Mimi Fariña's twenty-first birthday, Fariña saw a guest with a motorcycle, who later gave Fariña a ride up Carmel Valley Road, heading east toward the rural Cachagua area of Carmel Valley.

At an S-turn the driver lost control. The motorcycle tipped over on the right side of the road, came back to the other side, and tore through a barbed wire fence into a field where a small vineyard now exists. The driver survived, but Fariña was killed instantly. According to Pynchon's preface to Been Down..., the police said the motorcycle must have been traveling at 90 miles per hour (140 km/h), even though "a prudent speed" would have been 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).

Fariña is buried in a simple grave, its marker emblazoned with a peace sign, at Monterey City Cemetery in Monterey, California.[12]

dow, Monday, 10 May 2021 18:58 (four months ago) link

Yes, I almost got even cuter by referring to him as Richie Meyers, but even I have some vestigial standards.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 19:00 (four months ago) link

Commas, how do they work?

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 19:00 (four months ago) link

Forgot that Gravity's Rainbow is dedicated to him. He did more than I knew:http://www.richardandmimi.com/
http://www.richardandmimi.com/vanguardtribute.jpg

dow, Monday, 10 May 2021 19:02 (four months ago) link

Yeah, commas are a pain.

dow, Monday, 10 May 2021 19:03 (four months ago) link

I think the only two I've read are "Crying of Lot 49" and "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me". I think that I read "Flowers for Algernon" at some point, but probably the short story version. I have fond memories of reading COL49, but BDSLILLUTM was kind of a disappointment. No doubt I picked it up because of the Pynchon intro. Both share an appreciation for the culture of elaborate pranks that is the purest efflorescence of a certain nerdy subculture that flourishes in tightly regimented environments, e.g. the military.

o. nate, Monday, 10 May 2021 19:12 (four months ago) link

lot 49 is my least fave of the pynchon i've read, it's really good but loses a little of its magic by the end imo

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Monday, 10 May 2021 19:13 (four months ago) link

This may be the hardest one yet for me. I’ve read a bunch and no clear favorites. Although...

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 10 May 2021 19:16 (four months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 00:01 (four months ago) link

Voted for the one I read more than once

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 12 May 2021 13:26 (four months ago) link

That's supposed to be Three, not Berg.

― Daniel_Rf

Well.

I was hoping to be more excitable and campaign-y and in-depth for these ones where some of my favourite books of all time are appearing, but bad life stuff is happening and I just don't have the energy. The main thrust of what I was going to say about this year's AQ/BSJ match-up goes something like:

- Trawl is honestly lesser Johnson and wouldn't stand much of a chance against any Quin book...
- ...but particularly not against Three, which imo is her best and everyone should read this book.

emil.y, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 16:00 (four months ago) link

i voted for in cold blood lol

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Wednesday, 12 May 2021 16:03 (four months ago) link

Torn between Season of Migration and Lot 49, but The Laughing Policeman and The Comedians are excellent too (big lols in each obv).

JoeStork, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 17:10 (four months ago) link

The Laughing Policeman is great, but that's one where I wish I could vote for the series rather than the individual book.

Voted Crying of Lot 49. I don't think I've read it since I was a kid, but it's part of my mental landscape; little fragments of it, like "potsmaster" and "Hey, solid citizen, we just pinched your boat," float into my mind all the time.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 17:18 (four months ago) link

Lot 49 is diverting but extremely minor compared to what came later imo

Gravity's Rainbow is dedicated to Fariña

imago, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 17:20 (four months ago) link

Oh wait it's been said

imago, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 17:21 (four months ago) link

I have irrationally disliked Richard Farina ever since reading David Hajdu's book Positively 4th Street; Hajdu seemed so determined to elevate Farina as a misunderstood genius and downplay Dylan's talent that it made me instinctively (and quite unfairly) resent Farina when my actual beef was with Hajdu.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 17:25 (four months ago) link

The Comedians is good too; I didn't see it on the list until now. This was a good year.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 17:26 (four months ago) link

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

System, Thursday, 13 May 2021 00:01 (four months ago) link

A bunch of stuff wuz robbed.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 13 May 2021 00:08 (four months ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1967

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 13 May 2021 09:50 (four months ago) link

I was somewhat sheepish about voting for Flowers for Algernon, but I reread it relatively recently and it was well worth the revisit. Glad that one of my other choices, Babel-17, got a vote, somewhat dismayed the The Laughing Policeman got shut out.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 May 2021 17:29 (four months ago) link


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