Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1979

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leaving the 70's

Poll Results

OptionVotes
if on a winter's night a traveller by Italo Calvino 5
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams 4
The Dog Of The South by Charles Portis 3
Kindred by Octavia Butler 2
Engine Summer by John Crowley 2
Whip Hand by Dick Francis 2
The Dead Zone by Stephen King 2
Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald 2
A Bend In The River by V.S. Naipaul 1
Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick 1
The Book Of Laughter And Forgetting by Milan Kundera 1
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer 1
The Meeting At Telgte by Gunter Grass 1
The Unlimited Dream Company by J.G. Ballard 1
Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer 0
The Dragon Can't Dance by Earl Lovelace 0
A Dry White Season by André Brink 0
A Handful Of Fog by Sami Michael 0
Contemporary Games by Kenzaburō Ōe 0
Parva by S. L. Bhyrappa 0
The Harp And The Shadow by Alejo Carpentier 0
Time Of The Butcherbird by Alex La Guma 0
Stalker by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky 0
The South Seas by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán 0
Pubis Angelical by Manuel Puig 0
Missing Soluch by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi 0
A Man by Oriana Fallaci 0
The Land At The End Of The World by António Lobo Antunes 0
The Joys Of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta 0
Woman At Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi 0
The Safety Net by Heinrich Boll 0
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende 0
Hear The Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami 0
Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale Of Mystery by Deborah Howe 0
Dubin's Lives by Bernard Malamud 0
The Flight To Lucifer: A Gnostic Fantasy by Harold Bloom 0
The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth 0
Homebase by Shawn Wong 0
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut 0
Mulligan Stew by Gilbert Sorrentino 0
Titan by John Varley 0
Umbertina by Helen Barolini 0
Pig Earth by John Berger 0
A Small Country by Siân James 0
Smiley's People by John Le Carré 0
Territorial Rights by Muriel Spark 0
Make Death Love Me by Ruth Rendell 0
Diva by Delacorta 0
Memoirs Of An Anti-Semite by Gregor von Rezzori 0
Flowers In The Attic by V.C. Andrews 0


Daniel_Rf, Friday, 25 June 2021 13:57 (three months ago) link

I have a lot of fondness for Douglas Adams but it's Dog Of The South for me.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 25 June 2021 13:58 (three months ago) link

Not managed to include:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a2/TheOtherNed.jpg

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 25 June 2021 13:59 (three months ago) link

Calvino for me

A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:04 (three months ago) link

I voted for Offshore because someone had to.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:07 (three months ago) link

This might be John Crowley tbh

I have had my Douglas Adams phase as a youth but I've kind of revisited some of it lately and tbh he's mostly bad

Take me home, Jordan Rhodes (Noodle Vague), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:10 (three months ago) link

Stalker by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Isn't this Roadside Picnic and it came out in 1972, or was there a movie adaptation in Alan Dean Foster style?

faded seaside glamour boys (Matt #2), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:12 (three months ago) link

Stalker (novel)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Stalker (Russian: Машина желаний, lit. "The Wish Machine") is a novel by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky based on an early draft screenplay for the movie Stalker that in turn is based on a part of their 1972 novel Roadside Picnic, published in Avrora nos 7-9.

But yeah Roadside Picnic is the better known version so I might've omitted this.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 25 June 2021 14:14 (three months ago) link

That's probably my favourite Ballard novel; I like the Ghost Writer, the Kundera and Calvino but I think it's VS Naipaul for me.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:15 (three months ago) link

When I reread the Naipaul few years ago, it felt too steeped in Conradian juices.

My runners-up: Calvino, Roth, Butler, Le Carré.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:17 (three months ago) link

I have had my Douglas Adams phase as a youth but I've kind of revisited some of it lately and tbh he's mostly bad

Not that I was planning on it, but maybe I'll never revisit and keep my illusions intact.

I should read more Penelope Fitzgerald.

Engine Summer has the slightly unsettled dreamlike quality of Crowley's best works. Kindred is very good. Calvino I found irritating when I read it circa age 20.

In the wastelands of Birmingham and Manchester, massages are back (ledge), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:17 (three months ago) link

HHGTTG is perfect in its original form as a radio series - the book, TV series and film are all inferior copies. The books only get good once he stops recycling radio stuff.

A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:19 (three months ago) link

It's possible with Adams that observations that read trite and reactionary now were fresher in the early 80s tbfttl

Take me home, Jordan Rhodes (Noodle Vague), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:20 (three months ago) link

But yeah radio show was enough

Take me home, Jordan Rhodes (Noodle Vague), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:20 (three months ago) link

When I reread the Naipaul few years ago, it felt too steeped in Conradian juices.

Yeah, it's been a while since I read it and given Naipaul's more, ah, conservative predilections I can well imagine it'd rub me up the wrong way now.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:23 (three months ago) link

I tried to re-read Adams a few years back and it felt like slow death by whimsy.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:23 (three months ago) link

God, that Stalker/Roadside Picnic thing is really confusing (and I'm sure RP did very well in its original year, too).

This is definitely Calvino for me, with the caveat that I do need to read more Butler and she is on my list. I read both The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and The Unbearable Lightness of Being very close together and they sort of blended into one in my mind without many distinguishing characteristics (I am sorry that these threads so often turn into me talking about not remembering things, it's not meant to be a fun affectation, I actually hate that my memory is so poor).

emil.y, Friday, 25 June 2021 14:25 (three months ago) link

Never really had a desire to revisit the Hitch-hiker's stuff after childhood, though I will highly recommend the text adventure.

emil.y, Friday, 25 June 2021 14:27 (three months ago) link

It's easy to remember, the woman in Unbearable Lightness of Being has a hat

Take me home, Jordan Rhodes (Noodle Vague), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:29 (three months ago) link

Have read flowers in the attic, dead zone, unlimited dream co, if on a winters night & sleepless nights; that is good king but this is not the year to vote for king just yet. Might be recency bias (ie yep the one I still remember much about) but it’s sleepless nights for me

The 💨 that shook the barlow (wins), Friday, 25 June 2021 14:38 (three months ago) link

I've read Hitchhiker's Guide (I worshipped this when I was younger, though "Restaurant at the End of the Universe" was my favorite of the trilogy), Sleepless Nights, Kindred, and If On A Winter's Night a Traveler. Voting Calvino.

o. nate, Friday, 25 June 2021 16:14 (three months ago) link

I do need to read more Butler and she is on my list

Kindred is the best place to start imo, especially for people who aren't nec super into science fiction—if you are, then maybe best to know that Kindred isn't really that, though I still think it's the ideal first read

trap door to hell opens underneath (rob), Friday, 25 June 2021 17:07 (three months ago) link

I have gone back to a reasonable amount of horror/sci-fi genre fiction these days as a comforting area to read in, and they're particularly good for podcast fiction, but I've always preferred "philosophical and weird" to "monsters and space-ships" (I hate the "hard" and "soft" terms and refuse to use them). Kindred is def the Butler I've heard most people rave about so would probably start there anyway, though I have read at least one of her short stories before so I'm not completely in the dark. Thanks for the rec, though!

emil.y, Friday, 25 June 2021 17:30 (three months ago) link

Butler again for me, and yeah this one's a great gateway. Lots of things on here I still hope to read, really need to get started on Portis.

dow, Friday, 25 June 2021 18:12 (three months ago) link

Kindred is maybe not as great a gateway (and maybe doesn't want to be: it's intentionally v slippery). as say, Wild Seed. origin story of the Patternist series (but it's hard to pick one from that). The short story "Bloodchild" seems ideal, the power dynamic/ontological-biological-ecological crux of her whole thing.

dow, Friday, 25 June 2021 18:21 (three months ago) link

I haven't read "Bloodchild" but I pretty strongly disagree with starting with Wild Seed. That individual book is excellent, def one of her best, but then you're faced with the dilemma of whether to continue with the other three Patternist books, none of which are as good. This is assuming you've already decided to read them in narrative chronology not publishing order, which is what I did and is probably wisest. But you get very sudden diminishing returns with Mind of My Mind, where the two characters you've just spent a whole, very rich book with are suddenly thinly drawn and just kind of different. I enjoyed the whole series, but I constantly second-guessed the reading order decision and it was distracting to have it in the back of my mind.

Kindred is the least genre-y of her books that I've read (if it came out today it likely wouldn't even be considered genre fiction now that "literary" books are allowed to play with genre tropes), so I suppose it's something of an outlier in her oeuvre, but it's the one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to literally any kind of reader.

That said, I'm not sure you could really go wrong starting anywhere! The Parable books, Lilith's Brood, they're all great

trap door to hell opens underneath (rob), Friday, 25 June 2021 18:42 (three months ago) link

I had a hard time getting into Kindred because I found the characterization weirdly flat, but I'd like to give her another try. Maybe I'll try Wild Seed.

Lily Dale, Friday, 25 June 2021 19:04 (three months ago) link

Kindred impressed me when I read it in April.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 25 June 2021 19:08 (three months ago) link

This is a good survey, as I mentioned on the current rolling speculative fiction etc.:

an astute take on the work of Octavia Butler in March, guess the rest is behind paywall (I happened to see the print edition), but here's the opening: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/03/15/how-octavia-e-butler-reimagines-sex-and-survival

― dow, Wednesday, May 19, 2021 7:03 PM (three days ago)
The link hots it up, no prob but be it known the print is more precise:
Stranger Communities
Octavia E. Butler's vision of struggle and symbiosis
By Julian Lucas
Will have to find some more by Lucas.

― dow, Saturday, May 22, 2021

dow, Friday, 25 June 2021 19:33 (three months ago) link

Incl. references to the recent Library of America collection.

dow, Friday, 25 June 2021 19:35 (three months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Monday, 28 June 2021 00:01 (three months ago) link

Engine Summer by a mile, lots of books I like on here but only one I love

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 28 June 2021 01:30 (three months ago) link

I'm halfway through Offshore. Not quite enjoying yet it as much as The Bookshop but there's lot's to like, the children are great and the writing is absolutely first class. Loved this bit about the methodically minded Richard, when he starts expecting something to happen that has never happened before: "He was not satisfied with the way his mind was working. Something was out of phase. He did not recognise it as hope."

In the wastelands of Birmingham and Manchester, massages are back (ledge), Monday, 28 June 2021 08:37 (three months ago) link

So much good stuff! But I guess I am required to vote for … to vote for…

Rich Valley Girl, Poor Valley Girl (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 28 June 2021 15:05 (three months ago) link

Got to Dog of the South, that was all I needed to see.

Chris L, Monday, 28 June 2021 15:24 (three months ago) link

Ha, that's what I almost...what I almost...

Rich Valley Girl, Poor Valley Girl (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 28 June 2021 16:25 (three months ago) link

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

System, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 00:01 (three months ago) link

Finished Offshore last night, it was excellent. Ended up voting for Hitchhikers for sentimental reasons.

In the wastelands of Birmingham and Manchester, massages are back (ledge), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 07:33 (three months ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1980

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 10:41 (three months ago) link

Engine Summer by a mile, lots of books I like on here but only one I love

Belated agreement, amused that we were (presumably) the two voters for this.

toby, Saturday, 3 July 2021 10:03 (three months ago) link

It’s been on my list for ages/pvmic

Planck Generation (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 3 July 2021 13:44 (three months ago) link


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