Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1981

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Poll Results

OptionVotes
Lanark: A Life In Four Books by Alasdair Gray 9
Valis by Philip K. Dick 4
The White Hotel by D.M. Thomas 2
Little, Big by John Crowley 2
The File On H by Ismail Kadare 1
Djinn by Alain Robbe-Grillet 1
Other People by Martin Amis 1
HERmione by H.D. 1
The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux 1
A Good Man In Africa by William Boyd 1
Bliss by Peter Carey 1
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada 0
The Howling Miller by Arto Paasilinna 0
The Holy Innocents by Miguel Delibes 0
The Word Of A Gentleman by Peter Niesewand 0
Evil by Jan Guillou 0
The Chaneysville Incident by David Bradley 0
Bougainville by F. Springer 0
The Borribles Go For Broke by Michael de Larrabeiti 0
The Iron Theatre by Otar Chiladze 0
The War Of The End Of The World by Mario Vargas Llosa 0
Starship & Haiku by S. P. Somtow 0
So Long A Letter by Marima Bâ 0
Severina by Ignazio Silone 0
Please, No Police by Aras Ören 0
Mr. Myombekere and His Wife Bugonoka, Their Son Ntulanalwo and Daughter Bulihwali by Aniceti Kitereza 0
Minotaur by Benjamin Tammuz 0
Max And The Cats by Moacyr Scliar 0
The Wandering Jew by Stefan Heym 0
Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful by Alan Paton 0
Good Behaviour by Molly Keane 0
Hello America by J.G. Ballard 0
The Comfort Of Strangers by Ian McEwan 0
Zuckerman Unbound by Philip Roth 0
Tar Baby by Toni Morrison 0
Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike 0
Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh 0
Death In A Tenured Position by Amanda Cross 0
Cujo by Stephen King 0
Loitering With Intent by Muriel Spark 0
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie 0
The Christmas Tree by Jennifer Johnston 0
Where Are You Dying Tonight? by Michel Déon 0
Evil Angels by Pascal Bruckner 0
Silver's City by Maurice Leitch 0
The Silent City by Élisabeth Vonarburg 0
The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies 0
Obasan by Joy Kogawa 0
A Start In Life by Anita Brookner 0
Dying, In Other Words by Maggie Gee 0


Daniel_Rf, Friday, 2 July 2021 10:52 (one month ago) link

Obligatory "not including this but check out the cover":

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/29/Project_Pope%2C_novel_by_Clifford_Simak%2C_1st_edition_cover.jpg

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 2 July 2021 10:53 (one month ago) link

Two main 80's trends I identified going through this: a fascination with Japan (in addition to the very serious Obasan, abt Japanese internment camps in Canada, we have Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Tomoe Gozen, set in an alternate universe resembling feudal Japan, and Robert Shea's historical novel Shike); and satanic panic involving RPGs - this is the year of Mazes & Monsters, but also John Coyne's Hobgoblin and, more tangentially, Fred Saberhagen's Octagon, about someone killing his opponents in the science fiction play-by-mail game Starweb.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 2 July 2021 10:58 (one month ago) link

I have read exactly 0 of these

A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 2 July 2021 12:02 (one month ago) link

Imho 1970-1985 stands out for its theory and poetry more so than its novels, but I have my biases.

pomenitul, Friday, 2 July 2021 12:11 (one month ago) link

Have read 3.3 of these (the .3 being Lanark, which I really should finish some day), but Valis is way ahead of the rest. PKD's finest moment for me.

maybe you just don't need to comment on that (Matt #2), Friday, 2 July 2021 12:19 (one month ago) link

Imho 1970-1985 stands out for its theory and poetry more so than its novels, but I have my biases.

Yes. This lull in great novels ended in 1985, as I was born and authors decided that, now that there was someone worthy of reading them, they needed to up their game.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 2 July 2021 12:44 (one month ago) link

Couldn't have said it better myself! ;)

pomenitul, Friday, 2 July 2021 12:45 (one month ago) link

just Cujo and The Comfort Of Strangers here. and i appear to have confused the latter with another of his books.

koogs, Friday, 2 July 2021 13:55 (one month ago) link

I love the Borrible novels and realise I must have missed the first one so am tempted to vote for ...Go For Broke. I don't mind admitting I was dazzled by Rushdie once but dipped back into Midnight's Children a few years ago and found it exhausting. Hello America is weak Ballard and as much as I love Lanark I found sections of it a slog.

All of which is to say, I think it's Brookner.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 2 July 2021 13:55 (one month ago) link

Lanark.

emil.y, Friday, 2 July 2021 14:28 (one month ago) link

Probably

Planck Generation (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 2 July 2021 14:33 (one month ago) link

I read Lanark and thought it was a very impressive work that I never wanted to read again. Conversely I'm looking forward to rereading Little, Big, which as I said on the Crowley thread more effectively captures a childhood sense of wonder than anything else I've read. Also read The Comfort of Strangers and maybe Midnight's Children.

Got Starship & Haiku in the mail yesterday. It wasn't that popular was it?

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 2 July 2021 17:33 (one month ago) link

I second VALIS: PKD at top of his games, as artist, entertainer, and vision-dogged crackpot/researcher, juggling and balancing all sectors ov brane as well as he can, maybe as well as anybody can (recently thought of this again while struggling through Melville's struggle with Pierre, Or, The Ambiguities).

dow, Friday, 2 July 2021 17:50 (one month ago) link

Also vaguely remember really enjoying The White Hotel by D.M. Thomas. Still want to read Little, Big and Tar Baby.

dow, Friday, 2 July 2021 17:54 (one month ago) link

This is the kind of passage that makes me wonder why the hell it is that people think PKD can't write a sentence:

Fat was convinced that Stephanie would wind up in jail; he expected her to be arrested any day. All Fat's friends expected him to be arrested any day. We worried about that and about his slow decline into depression and psychosis and isolation. Fat worried about Stephanie. Stephanie worried about the price of hash. More so, she worried about the price of cocaine. We used to imagine her suddenly sitting bolt upright in the middle of the night and exclaiming, "Coke has gone up to a hundred dollars a gram!" She worried about the price of dope the way normal women worry about the price of coffee.

Lily Dale, Friday, 2 July 2021 18:08 (one month ago) link

_Lanark_.

The 💨 that shook the barlow (wins), Friday, 2 July 2021 18:08 (one month ago) link

xpost Great quote; thanks, Lily. My take seems to fit, as precursor, with this discussion, which I just now cam across in Wikipedia, of The Owl By Daylight, his unfinished novel in the VALIS Trilogy or Quartet:
The Selected Letters of Philip K Dick Volume 6: 1980 -1982, where one can read Dick's own description of the story and what he wanted to do with it. The plot was to express what he believed was an evolutionary step in humanity, using an interpretation of Joachim de Fiore, where he believed that one age of humanity used the left side of the brain, another the right, and the future would combine the two leading to a greater understanding of what is real. Moreover, the use of Dante was to demonstrate how hell, purgatory and heaven can all be experiences of life, showing how the world is experienced according to the left, right and whole of the brain.

dow, Friday, 2 July 2021 18:27 (one month ago) link

Sorry: The Owl *In* Daylight. There's a lot more in the Wiki---this bit seems promising/a bit 2001, but customized:
A scientist creates a theme park that is related to the events of his youth, whereupon a sentient artificial intelligence imprisons him within it, as a youth. He has to travel through Dantean realities (and artist, political activist and gay social networks in the Berkeley of the 1940s and 1950s) to return home and resume his life as an old man.

dow, Friday, 2 July 2021 18:34 (one month ago) link

One aspect of Dick's earlier work is that he chucked it out at a rate of knots and didn't seem to care much for revision, or maybe just couldn't afford to. The later novels had a lot more care taken over them and it showed. Still a tragedy he died so young, I think he had a few more classics in him.

maybe you just don't need to comment on that (Matt #2), Friday, 2 July 2021 19:08 (one month ago) link

Lanark and Vali are the only two I've read. Going for the former.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 3 July 2021 11:03 (one month ago) link

Valis

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 3 July 2021 11:04 (one month ago) link

  • read other boyds and liked them
  • wasn't into valis when i read it 25 years ago
  • stopped reading downbelow station
  • loved little, big when i read it 25 years ago
  • friends i trust love 'midnight's children' but i once read the opening chapter and hated it
  • thx to daniel for not including piers anthony
  • anyway, lanark

mookieproof, Sunday, 4 July 2021 00:57 (four weeks ago) link

Write-in for The Affirmation by Christopher Priest

Zelda Zonk, Sunday, 4 July 2021 01:05 (four weeks ago) link

Most of Lanark blew me away. I really got bogged down at the end though.

The Owl In Daylight sounds fascinating. I thought PKD was fixed in his belief that we were all perpetually stuck in that one bible verse. I didn’t realize he had developed such complex theories about social evolution. That one really has some merit imo.

How about Tar Baby? I haven’t read it but I’d like to.

recovering internet addict/shitposter (viborg), Sunday, 4 July 2021 01:16 (four weeks ago) link

Write-in for The Affirmation by Christopher Priest

^this

Planck Generation (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 4 July 2021 01:35 (four weeks ago) link

pvmic!

mookieproof, Sunday, 4 July 2021 01:38 (four weeks ago) link

Ha!

Planck Generation (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 4 July 2021 01:54 (four weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Monday, 5 July 2021 00:01 (four weeks ago) link

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

System, Tuesday, 6 July 2021 00:01 (four weeks ago) link

contrary to my usual glasgow-jingoism i don't like lanark! and not because the, autobiographical, protagonist is an incel who murders a girl who friendzones him

《Myst1kOblivi0n》 (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 6 July 2021 00:05 (four weeks ago) link

but that is kinda o_0

《Myst1kOblivi0n》 (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 6 July 2021 00:05 (four weeks ago) link

I'm almost afraid to ask, but---if *that* didn't make you dislike it, what did?

dow, Tuesday, 6 July 2021 02:17 (four weeks ago) link

Oh the content is definitely unpalatable but you can have good books about awful people. Just didn't really thrill me. Last third or so is a big of a slog. Didn't really appreciate the Unthank sections.

《Myst1kOblivi0n》 (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 6 July 2021 03:55 (four weeks ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1982

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 6 July 2021 10:45 (four weeks ago) link


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