Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1986

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Poll Results

OptionVotes
It by Stephen King 7
The Sportswriter by Richard Ford 3
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones 3
Extinction by Thomas Bernhard 2
An Artist Of The Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro 2
The Passport by Herta Muller 1
Augustus by Allan Massie 1
The Stone Raft by José Saramago 1
The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis 1
A Perfect Spy by John le Carré 1
A Book Of Memories by Péter Nádas 1
The City Of Marvels by Eduardo Mendoza Garriga 1
The Book Of Abraham by Marek Halter 0
Black Box by Amos Oz 0
Chaff On The Wind by Ebou Dibba 0
Death In Spring by Mercè Rodoreda 0
The Defector by Monika Maron 0
Shantytown Kid by Azouz Begag 0
The Scent Of Rain In The Balkans by Gordana Kuić 0
Scandal by Shusaku Endo 0
Moscow 2042 by Vladimir Voinovich 0
Love And Garbage by Ivan Klíma 0
Justice Undone by Thor Vilhjálmsson 0
In Search Of A Distant Voice by Taichi Yamada 0
Foe by J.M. Coetzee 0
Fiasco by Stanislaw Lem 0
Who Killed Palomino Molero? by Mario Vargas Llosa 0
A Foreign Woman by Sergei Dovlatov 0
Who Will Remember The People... by Jean Raspail 0
I, Tituba: Black Witch Of Salem by Maryse Condé 0
Islay by Douglas Bullard 0
I'll Take Manhattan by Judith Krantz 0
Golden Days by Carolyn See 0
The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy 0
Count Zero by William Gibson 0
Children Of Light by Robert Stone 0
Nothing Natural by Jenny Diski 0
Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf 0
Off For The Sweet Herafter by T.R. Pearson 0
Paradise by Donald Barthelme 0
The Shore Of Women by Pamela Sargent 0
Blue Eyes, Black Hair by Marguerite Duras 0
Let Time Pass by Svend Åge Madsen 0
An American Story by Jacques Godbout 0
A Taste For Death by P.D. James 0
The Songs Of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke 0
Perfect English by Paul Pickering 0
When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger 0
The Stars At Noon by Denis Johnson 0
The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth 0


Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 10:52 (three months ago) link

I have only read 'It' but will not be voting for it. Weird year.

A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 20 July 2021 10:57 (three months ago) link

I've read two of these, and of those it's Ishiguro. Yeah a strange year, compared to the riches of 1985 it seems a bit of a lull.

Neil S, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 11:11 (three months ago) link

'It' is a pretty incredible mix of supernatural and cosmic and quotidian horror, the last two of which the recent film completely failed to capture. The sense is that the horror is not just some murderous monster - albeit an incredibly powerful and scary one - but that it subtly infects the entire town, exaggerating to great effect the normal fears kids might have of cops or authoritarian parents or school bullies and making it - amongst other things - a very powerful portrait of growing up an underdog.

I read Howl's Moving Castle recently, there's a lot that didn't make it into the film but Howl is a bit of a dick and I prefer the film's more sympathetic version and simplified story - those who read the book first may disagree. Ishiguro the only other one I've read.

At Easter I had a fall. I don't know whether to laugh or cry (ledge), Tuesday, 20 July 2021 12:12 (three months ago) link

extinction

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Tuesday, 20 July 2021 12:13 (three months ago) link

i never reveal my votes in these threads but here i will say i'm a strong Stone Raft partisan

Clay, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 12:20 (three months ago) link

I haven't read any of these. Write-in vote for Updike's "Roger's Version", I guess.

o. nate, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 13:39 (three months ago) link

The Passport is such a lame title compared to Der Mensch ist ein großer Fasan auf der Welt ('Man is a great pheasant in the world'), which I assume already sounds odd to German speakers who are unfamiliar with Romanian ('fazan' refers to a chump in addition to the bird itself). Anyway, that one.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 13:53 (three months ago) link

I have only read 'It' but will not be voting for it. Weird year.

― A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length)

Same. I had a brief look to see if anything else I'd read had been cut, and I could only spot The Bridge by Iain Banks, which I don't really remember as being a standout one of his. Did prompt me to take a look back at '84 though and was surprised to see that The Wasp Factory got cut from that list!

emil.y, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 16:26 (three months ago) link

I would have voted for The Wasp Factory, very surprised that didn't make the cut.

A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 20 July 2021 16:46 (three months ago) link

the reason I can't vote for 'It' is the uh "sex scene" or whatever you call it, an unbelievable thing to be lurking on normal people's bookshelves

A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 20 July 2021 16:48 (three months ago) link

yeah The Bridge was probably his most serious of those first few non-M novels. it's well regarded.

might've voted Wasp Factory over Neuromancer. tough call though.

(ha, just checked to see if my copy of the bridge is signed (wasp factory is!) and it's not but there was a postcard of the forth bridge tucked inside along with a train ticket)

koogs, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 16:58 (three months ago) link

Blue Eyes, Black Hair by Marguerite Duras

Didn't even know about this one.

Extinction is all I've read.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 17:26 (three months ago) link

The Bridge was Banks's own favourite. It's his experimental-ish novel, not a million miles from Anna Kavan's Ice, iirc, if that had a 'he woke up and it was all a dream' ending. I jest, sort of. But yes we could do with some Banks in these.

At Easter I had a fall. I don't know whether to laugh or cry (ledge), Tuesday, 20 July 2021 17:42 (three months ago) link

Huh, maybe I'd have to revisit it, I don't have a very strong memory of it but that sounds good! I wouldn't have voted for The Wasp Factory, mostly b/c the Paviç from that year is so good, but also because the way it treats its topic might be a lot less palatable to me now than it was as a teen.

emil.y, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 17:54 (three months ago) link

i've just bought a copy (WF) for a friend's teenage daughter so it'll be interesting to see what she thinks (although i doubt i will ever find out tbh). it's on a lot of YA reading lists i noticed.

koogs, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 18:17 (three months ago) link

A lot I like, nothing I love.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 20 July 2021 18:29 (three months ago) link

It was my favourite book growing up but yeah, that sex scene. I like The Sportswriter so will go for that.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 20 July 2021 20:42 (three months ago) link

nádas

mookieproof, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 22:05 (three months ago) link

Haven’t read that one but met one of the translators.

Two Severins Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 20 July 2021 22:40 (three months ago) link

surprised ledge hasn't read the second part of the neuromancer trilogy (although it's not great, never liked the moved away from the space rastas, and the second trilogy is much better)

koogs, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 23:52 (three months ago) link

I wasn't exactly ignorant but only vaguely aware that neuromancer was a trilogy - was never hugely taken by the original, for a - 'the' - cyberpunk novel i thought there was too much conventional action and not enough cyber.

At Easter I had a fall. I don't know whether to laugh or cry (ledge), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 08:10 (three months ago) link

I listened to Neuromancer as an audio book, read by Gibson himself, and found it confusing but the background roots reggae was welcome.

Re: Banks, both those novels were in my lists before I had to whittle them down to 50, and in both cases they got cut because wikipedia didn't give much indication of how well regarded they are.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 08:40 (three months ago) link

I think Gibson's a little embarrassed by the space rastas nowadays, I quite like them I must admit

libertarian MP supports state intervention to punish burglars only (Matt #2), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 08:54 (three months ago) link

The Sportswriter is an odd book. [SPOILERS I GUESS] The last few chapters, where the narrator meets a younger woman and embarks on an affair with her, is painted as some sort of triumph for him but just comes as super-bleak and spiritually empty given what's come before. Kind of like, 'life sucks but hey I met this new girl so it's all good now'.

If I thought Ford intended it to be read as such (in an unreliable narrator way) I'd be impressed but I think it's unintentional.

The Color and The Shape (Taylor's Version) (Adept), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:23 (three months ago) link

I think Bascombe would consider it a triumph of sorts, albeit he's adrift enough not to know what he wants. I don't think the governing intelligence of the book would judge it a win though - especially given what comes in the next two books.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:56 (three months ago) link

Re: Banks, both those novels were in my lists before I had to whittle them down to 50, and in both cases they got cut because wikipedia didn't give much indication of how well regarded they are.

― Daniel_Rf

I know you're doing your best on your own, no insult to your list-making intended. I'm not sure which of his sci-fi books as Iain M. Banks should be included, if any, but I'd say of his non-SF works you should probably at least include The Crow Road in '92. I might not vote for it but I'd guess at it being #2 to The Wasp Factory in terms of Banks notability.

Also I probably did know he was dead but I'd forgotten that fact and just got all sad.

emil.y, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 15:38 (three months ago) link

How well The Wasp Factory is regarded is an interesting question as my copy included several damningly bad reviews accusing Banks of everything from moral degeneracy to being a shock-value huckster, actually printed at the front of the book.

A viking of frowns, (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 15:47 (three months ago) link

O shit, yeah, I remember that! I was impressed by the chutzpah of putting them in.

emil.y, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 15:48 (three months ago) link

Also I probably did know he was dead but I'd forgotten that fact and just got all sad.

I remember Alan Moore in an interview saying that his main reaction to the death of Thatcher was that Banks, who had been diagnosed by then, had managed to outlive her and that there was some joy to be wrung from that.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 15:52 (three months ago) link

I'm not sure which of his sci-fi books as Iain M. Banks should be included, if any

First three or four Culture books are definitely the best imo. Haven't read (the non-Culture) Feersum Endjinn though, which I know a lot of people rep for.

a cad, a bounder, a rotter, a really bad sort (Matt #2), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 17:13 (three months ago) link

I've not read Banks in about 20 years. Curious to know how it'd hold up. From memory, I'd certainly rep for Feersum Endjinn. Consider Phlebas, too.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 17:38 (three months ago) link

Can you include The Medusa Frequency by Russell Hoban in the list for 1987, please?

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 19:01 (three months ago) link

The first four culture novels (can't lose excession) & feersum enjinn & against a dark background definitely all top tier banks.

At Easter I had a fall. I don't know whether to laugh or cry (ledge), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 20:20 (three months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Thursday, 22 July 2021 00:01 (three months ago) link

Will do, Lily!

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 22 July 2021 07:28 (three months ago) link

Voting for It, for me easily the peak of the king project - bleak and disturbing and sordid, its greatness I think inseparable from its most ill-judged elements (ie yes that scene, but also the general misogyny & homophobia, the bloat, the 2d characterisation); maybe you have to encounter it at the age of the young protagonists, as I did

Woolf & Stein 3d (wins), Thursday, 22 July 2021 18:45 (three months ago) link

Starting to get some Vintage Contemporaries on the list. Interesting how some big hitters are missing from these lists (Ellis, McInerney, Bobbie Ann Mason, etc.).

The Sportswriter, and the Frank Bascombe novels, are my least favorite Ford, though maybe I should try again. Barthelme’s Paradise is a fun, hard-earned wisp.

... (Eazy), Thursday, 22 July 2021 20:14 (three months ago) link

i'm sure i've read and enjoyed books by worse people, but ford is such a legendary asshole that i've never been tempted to try.

(also the sportswriter at least *sounds* like more updike/roth 'aging writer rages that no one wants to fuck him anymore' crap)

mookieproof, Thursday, 22 July 2021 21:29 (three months ago) link

Voting for It, for me easily the peak of the king project - bleak and disturbing and sordid, its greatness I think inseparable from its most ill-judged elements (ie yes that scene, but also the general misogyny & homophobia, the bloat, the 2d characterisation); maybe you have to encounter it at the age of the young protagonists, as I did

I could have written this exact post but it would have been about The Stand

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 22 July 2021 21:30 (three months ago) link

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

System, Friday, 23 July 2021 00:01 (three months ago) link

did not see that coming but then again there's not a book here that wouldn't have felt like a surprise win

Guayaquil (eephus!), Friday, 23 July 2021 01:45 (three months ago) link

what? this had the most obvious winner out of all these polls afaict

Linda and Jodie Rocco (map), Friday, 23 July 2021 01:54 (three months ago) link

Poor Maryse Condé. I would have voted for you, had I seen the poll in time.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Friday, 23 July 2021 01:59 (three months ago) link

Not more obvious than Ulysses tbf, map.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 23 July 2021 08:40 (three months ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1987

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 23 July 2021 09:32 (three months ago) link

I didn't see It coming either, but I have no idea which Stephen King novels are considered his best.

o. nate, Friday, 23 July 2021 13:28 (three months ago) link

Would've voted for "Innocence" if it had been on the list. Human Voices/At Freddies/Innocence/Beginning of Spring is PF's imperial phase for me.

Chuck_Tatum, Friday, 23 July 2021 14:28 (three months ago) link

Wasn’t Innocence on there for another year already?

Two Severins Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 23 July 2021 17:17 (three months ago) link


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