Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1969

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The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin
A Void by Georges Perec
Runaway Horses by Yukio Mishima
Passages by Ann Quin
Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Don't feel that strongly by any of this bar Ubik and Mishima lol, and as I haven't voted for the latter iirc I'll do that now. That tetralogy is rough in places but I like it a lot. I don't think I have ever got on with Le Guin although I really, really want to.

I also really want to read Conversations in the Cathedral. Vargas Llosa is a gap for me.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 20 May 2021 10:50 (one year ago) link

It's Vonnegut for me.

Didn't have space in the list for it, but was reminded that Satyajit Ray wrote a series of detective novels!

Also couldn't find Raymond Hitchcock's Percy, a novel about a guy who gets a dick transplant and his subsequent adventures in fucking. Wouldn't expect anyone to vote for it but from a social history pov this feels as good an artefact as any to hold up as the start of the British Seventies.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 20 May 2021 10:58 (one year ago) link

(couldn't find space in the list, I meant, re: Percy)

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 20 May 2021 10:58 (one year ago) link

It was filmed about a year later

Chickpeas, Scamps and Beeves (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 20 May 2021 11:11 (one year ago) link

The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Hate it when three of your all-timers end up in the same year.

MLM disaster unfolding in East London Tech City (Matt #2), Thursday, 20 May 2021 12:04 (one year ago) link

B.S. Johnson's "The Unfortunates" heavily features a football match (Nottingham Forest, I think?), always a plus point.

Are Animated Dads Getting Hotter? (Tom D.), Thursday, 20 May 2021 12:33 (one year ago) link

Anything but Ada.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 20 May 2021 15:18 (one year ago) link

The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson
A Void by Georges Perec
Passages by Ann Quin

These are three of the greatest books ever written and when I realised in advance of this poll that A Void was also '69 it almost broke my heart. Got to give a nod to Left Hand of Darkness as also v great, and a possible winner for me if it was in a field less fierce.

Anyway, The Unfortunates is p much my favourite book, though I no longer make favourite lists in the way I once did. It was naturally the 'book in a box' form that attracted me to it, and the revelation of its location blew my mind the first time I read it (Tom D is correct on the game), but it's the writing that keeps me, the perfectly realised flow of the stream-of-consciousness, the devastation that spreads and permeates your memories.

emil.y, Thursday, 20 May 2021 15:44 (one year ago) link


the mai tai quinn (voodoo chili), Thursday, 20 May 2021 15:47 (one year ago) link

My mini advert for Passages: Hey! Do you like avant-garde writing but just wish it had more of that S&M kick? Try Passages by Ann Quin! Fill yourself up with Lacanian sex (it's more fun than it sounds).

emil.y, Thursday, 20 May 2021 15:53 (one year ago) link

From this year, I've read "Slaughterhouse-Five", "Flashman" (at least I know I've read a few from this series, and I think one of them was the first one), and "Portnoy's Complaint". Also, among those that didn't make the cut, "The Andromeda Strain". Would probably vote for the Vonnegut.

o. nate, Thursday, 20 May 2021 16:11 (one year ago) link

Probably will vote for Slaughterhouse Five too but wanted to put a word in for The French Lieutenant's Woman, the first book I read which worked simultaneously as a genre novel and an explicit critique of its genre, it's much better than the shitty film they made from it.

A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Thursday, 20 May 2021 16:15 (one year ago) link

The Fire Engine That Disappeared by Sjowall and Wahloo was also published in 1969, and it's my favorite of their books, but with this kind of competition it would probably get shut out like The Laughing Policeman did.

A lot of impressive titles on this list, but there's no way I'm voting for anything but The Left Hand of Darkness. I'd probably vote for The Left Hand of Darkness if it were up against every book from 1960 on.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 20 May 2021 16:19 (one year ago) link

Unlike several recent lists, I've read at least six of these, so I feel competent to vote.

I'm a big fan of Patrick O'Brien's seagoing novels that began with Master and Commander; I own and have happily read all twenty of them, but their excellencies are quite minor compared to Left Hand of Darkness or Slaughterhouse Five, whose excellencies in turn are very different from one another.

Much as I've enjoyed Vonnegut as a writer and social critic, Ursula Le Guin lived and wrote in my hometown, which easily provides the tie breaker, so I don't have to ponder very long between the two.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Thursday, 20 May 2021 17:36 (one year ago) link

20 year old me - Vonnegut/Dick
40-odd year old me - Le Guin

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 20 May 2021 17:40 (one year ago) link

The Left Hand Of Darkness has one of those fictional worlds you feel physically on your body even years after you last read it.

abcfsk, Thursday, 20 May 2021 17:57 (one year ago) link

That passage with the really vivid sensory description of waking up in the tent might be my favorite chapter opening in literature - there's something almost unbearably moving about the POV, the way he unexpectedly jumps forward in time to show us how this lingers in his memory as the happiest time in his life.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 20 May 2021 18:52 (one year ago) link

All of the ones I remember reading seemed very strong, although Portnoy's Complaint was enough Roth for me, after Goodbye, Columbus and When She Was Good---enough so far, that is (I kind of hope not forever), also Slaughterhouse-Five, The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Four-Gated City, Ubik--but I'll go with The Left Hand of Darkness for cadence and imagery of emotional release, in the discipline of fiction---whatever shortcomings might be evident in re-reading it now, the whole thing was revelatory expression---"these are the words for this"---at the time, and I gather from occasional comments later that the author felt the same way, had something of the same experience. People who like it tend to love it.

dow, Thursday, 20 May 2021 21:01 (one year ago) link

Seems like non-sf 60s is a bit of a black spot for me, I've only read the le guin, dick, & vonnegut. (i know the vonnegut is one of those lucky sf books to be embraced by people who normally turn their nose up at that kind of thing.) I started Ada or Ardor for ye olde ilx book club but didn't get far.

I was born anxious, here's how to do it. (ledge), Friday, 21 May 2021 14:01 (one year ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 23 May 2021 00:01 (one year ago) link

The Unfortunates changed my life in a medium-sized kind of way, but notwithstanding that it’s really brilliant. I’d vote for it for more or less any year, except maybe ‘74.

Tim, Sunday, 23 May 2021 05:32 (one year ago) link

I mean ‘78.

Tim, Sunday, 23 May 2021 05:33 (one year ago) link

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

System, Monday, 24 May 2021 00:01 (one year ago) link

Ooh. I thought Le Guin was going to take this. Much as I like Vonnegut I'm a tad disappointed.

emil.y, Monday, 24 May 2021 00:23 (one year ago) link

Well it was close!

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 24 May 2021 09:14 (one year ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1970

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 24 May 2021 09:55 (one year ago) link

Well it was close!

Yes, very. I guess I should have voted twice.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Monday, 24 May 2021 17:48 (one year ago) link

I'm intrigued by what's coming up in '78 that Tim is so passionate about, but I guess I can wait a few more polls to find out.

emil.y, Monday, 24 May 2021 17:59 (one year ago) link

it's actually the Panini sticker book for the Argentina World Cup

koogs, Monday, 24 May 2021 19:46 (one year ago) link

Yeah that’s why I mixed it up with 1974 but that one was West Germany of course.

Tim, Monday, 24 May 2021 19:48 (one year ago) link

(it's kind of odd because Iran, Peru, Hungary, Tunisia, Scotland even, all get their own pages, whilst England gets 4 stickers - Clements, Brooking, Hughes, Keegan)


koogs, Monday, 24 May 2021 20:41 (one year ago) link

England didn’t make it to that World Cup, probs had something to do with it.

Tim, Monday, 24 May 2021 22:20 (one year ago) link

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