Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1980

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Poll Results

A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole 10
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson 4
A Month In The Country by J.L. Carr 4
The Twits by Roald Dahl 3
The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe by Douglas Adams 3
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban 2
Wild Seed by Octavia Butler 2
The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco 2
How German Is It by Walter Abish 1
Morgan's Passing by Anne Tyler 1
Women Of Algiers In Their Apartment by Assia Djebar 1
Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald 1
How Far Can You Go? by David Lodge 1
Tuareg by Alberto Vàsquez-Figueroa 0
The Day Lasts More Than A Hundred Years by Chinghiz Aitmatov 0
Clear Light Of Day by Anita Desai 0
Wonderful, Wonderful Times by Elfriede Jelinek 0
Child Of All Nations by Pramoedya Ananta Toer 0
Gentlemen by Klas Ostergren 0
The Samurai by Shusaku Endo 0
War, So Much War by Mercè Rodoreda 0
Devil On The Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o 0
Van Troff's Cylinder by Janusz Zajdel 0
Rituals by Cees Nooteboom 0
Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami 0
One Day Of Life by Manilo Argueta 0
The Lovelock Version by Maurice Shadbolt 0
Waiting For The Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee 0
Eternal Curse On The Reader Of These Pages by Manuel Puig 0
The Ghost Rider by Ismail Kadare 0
Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami 0
Daylight Robbery by Surender Mohan Pathak 0
The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara 0
Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oates 0
Beyond The Blue Event Horizon by Frederick Pohl 0
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum 0
The Brave Little Toaster by Thomas M. Disch 0
Neighbors by Thomas Berger 0
Paper Fish by Tina de Rosa 0
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge 0
Timescape by Gregory Benford 0
Kingdom Come by Melvyn Bragg 0
The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four And Five by Doris Lessing 0
The Middle Ground by Margaret Drabble 0
Puffball by Fay Weldon 0
The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate 0
Joshua Then And Now by Mordecai Richler 0
Désert by J.M.G. Le Clézio 0
The Testament by Elie Wiesel 0
Metroland by Julian Barnes 0

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

Eternal Curse On The Reader Of These Pages by Manuel Puig

Never gonna get on the bestseller list with that attitude!

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 10:42 (three months ago) link

This is gonna be my Douglas Adams vote. Fully expect Confederacy to win - haven't read it.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 10:43 (three months ago) link


Chris L, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 11:15 (three months ago) link

Tempted to buy, read and vote for the JL Carr before this poll ends, given how much I loved his FA Cup book a few years previously. Housekeeping is good if you ignore every single simile

imago, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 11:16 (three months ago) link

Hate Confederacy, can't imagine why anyone would want to read about such awful people.
Haven't read The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four And Five by Doris Lessing but I gather it's in the same series as Shikasta from the year before, which is one of the most miserable, loathsome, misanthropist works it's ever been my displeasure to read.
Riddley Walker is an achievement but not a particularly fun read either.
Didn't love Housekeeping as much as Gilead and subsequent books.
Restaurant - see previous Hitchhikers discussion.
The Name of the Rose - I can only second all the blurbs on the cover of the edition I own:


In the wastelands of Birmingham and Manchester, massages are back (ledge), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 11:17 (three months ago) link

A Confederate has funny mordant bits but it's too damn long and nothing O'Connor or Welty hadn't hit.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 12:38 (three months ago) link

A relative worships Italo Calvino yet thinks Umberto Eco is "trivial".

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 12:41 (three months ago) link

Waiting For The Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee
Wonderful, Wonderful Times by Elfriede Jelinek
How German Is It by Walter Abish

Going for the Abish, just above the Coetzee.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 12:53 (three months ago) link

Housekeeping has stayed with me because of its I want to say luminous darkness but that sounds daft. Anyway, this has to be A Month in the Country, which is perfect.

I've got pretty good staying power for books that rub me up the wrong way but I've tried twice with A Confederacy of Dunces and threw it down both times.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 13:01 (three months ago) link

Hard to choose between Riddley Walker and A Month in the Country, but I'm going with Riddley Walker.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 13:23 (three months ago) link

Damn, I missed Riddley Walker. Walker is my name and I am the same.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 14:36 (three months ago) link

I thought as the years progressed closer to the present day I'd be left further in the dust, but I've read at least six of these and they were all good in different ways. Gotta think this one through.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 15:24 (three months ago) link

The Twits is funny. A disgusting old married couple do everything within their power to kill each other but end up being done in by a bunch of animals.

i carry the torch for disco inauthenticity (Eric H.), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 15:26 (three months ago) link

Of course this year's list starts with the one Marilynne novel I haven't yet read---wonder if I could get through it before results are in? Gone with Butler several times. Yeah, Riddley Walker, The Name of the Rose would be worthy picks. But A Confederacy..., which seems to move out of the shadows of Robert Stone's Hall of Mirrors, has always spoken to Southern me re the warped aspects of New Orleans as twisted portal to and from the old and less old South (from antebellum to Lee Harvey Oswald and the KKK--see also The Earl of Louisiana)---and to book hoarder-"scholar"me as well---and when the medievalist crackpot finally emerges from his nest, he finds followers, all agreeing," "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." This always (from the time of publication) did seem a bit prophetic, re the world beyond NOLA, and has seemed much more so in the Trump Age. All in deadpan, camera pan, grainy, smelly detail, though maybe I'm too sucked into what L. Rust Hills calls the Schlock of Recognition---so be it (would hold off 'til rapid read of the Marilynne, but just emerged from Library of America onionskin slab of Melville, not yet ready for another plunge).

dow, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:34 (three months ago) link

i enjoy confederacy of dunces but it's also sort of not hard to see why it wasn't published during the author's lifetime. essentially a series of broad comic scenes in which the characters act according to how we expect them to act, perhaps somewhat overstaying their welcome by the end. a reasonably fun beach read but not really a great novel.

of the books ive read here the twits is my favourite

《Myst1kOblivi0n》 (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 18:01 (three months ago) link

have had 'name of the rose' on my tablet for a long time but have been too daunted to read–is it worth the effort?

the mai tai quinn (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 18:05 (three months ago) link

Housekeeping~Marilynne Robinson

johnny crunch, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 18:16 (three months ago) link

name of the rose? my recall of it is that it's major merit is a deft transposition of standard detective genre tropes into a setting highly antithetical to them. it's entertaining, but requires a suspension of disbelief to accept its improbability. sort of a high class 'summer read'.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 18:21 (three months ago) link

I would guess most of the books on this list require some suspension of disbelief.

In the wastelands of Birmingham and Manchester, massages are back (ledge), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 20:14 (three months ago) link


The 💨 that shook the barlow (wins), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 20:15 (three months ago) link

For me it finally winnowed down to Housekeeping and Human Voices. While the first of these is excellent and strikingly original, I went with the second; it was a book I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish and that pushed it to the top.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 20:24 (three months ago) link

Naturally, the Eco.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Tuesday, 29 June 2021 20:37 (three months ago) link

Tough one

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Waiting For The Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee

Pretty different books. With Barbarians Coetzee fine-tuned that insanely catchy voice of his with the blunt, emphatic sentences. Housekeeping is its own thing entirely.

abcfsk, Wednesday, 30 June 2021 06:49 (three months ago) link

I remember Bourne Identity as a great page-turner, the perfect book to find on the shelf in a summer rental. Restaurant at the End of the Universe was my favorite of the Hitchhiker trilogy as I mentioned on a previous thread. A Month in the Country is a wonderful short novel with great atmosphere. But my vote goes to Confederacy of Dunces which I found hilarious, I guess more than many here did, and with a memorable protagonist.

o. nate, Wednesday, 30 June 2021 15:15 (three months ago) link

confederacy is a book i kind of admire in many ways -- the dialogue is very sharp and unique and it is funny at least some of the time, if not quite as funny as it's obviously meant to be. but it really is just too long, by at least a hundred pages. and i'm still not sure what the reader is supposed to feel toward ignatius. the introduction compares him to don quixote, but i think he's more on the level of a minor simpsons character (maybe the comic book guy, who might well have been inspired by him): someone very entertaining in small doses but not someone you need to spend 400+ pages with. i can see why the original editor agonized over rejecting it but, finally, did.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 30 June 2021 22:58 (three months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Thursday, 1 July 2021 00:01 (three months ago) link

Have only read Human Voices, A Month in the Country, and Riddley Walker, but it's Riddley Walker.

JoeStork, Thursday, 1 July 2021 21:43 (three months ago) link

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

System, Friday, 2 July 2021 00:01 (three months ago) link

Much better than average participation in this one!

it is to laugh, like so, ha! (Aimless), Friday, 2 July 2021 00:12 (three months ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1981

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 2 July 2021 10:52 (three months ago) link

Yeah, and my one vote mattered, I guess.

Planck Generation (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 2 July 2021 10:55 (three months ago) link

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