Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1995

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Poll Results

OptionVotes
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman 7
The Rings Of Saturn by W.G. Sebald 5
High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby 4
Blindness by José Saramago 4
American Tabloid by James Ellroy 3
The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro 3
The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald 2
The Tunnel by William H. Gass 2
The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle 1
The Information by Martin Amis 1
Melancholy by Jon Fosse 1
The Prestige by Christopher Priest 1
Angels Of The Universe by Einar Már Guðmundsson 0
Chronicle Of A Blood Merchant by Yu Hua 0
The Children Of The Dead by Elfriede Jelinek 0
Sweetness by Torgny Lindgren 0
Sidetracked by Henning Mankell 0
The Crystal Frontier by Carlos Fuentes 0
A Dance Of Moths by Goh Poh Seng 0
Windward Heights by Maryse Condé 0
A Spell Of Winter by Helen Dunsmore 0
The Song Of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi 0
The Return by Håkan Nesser 0
The Reader by Bernard Schlink 0
I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman 0
Headcrash by Bruce Bethke 0
The Gods Laugh On Mondays by Reza Khoshnazar 0
The Dog King by Christoph Ransmayr 0
With Chronos' Permit by Andrei Gusev 0
The Gospel Of Afranius by Kirill Eskov 0
A Lost Paradise by Junichi Watanabe 0
Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson 0
The Ghost Road by Pat Barker 0
Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee 0
Ladder Of Years by Anne Tyler 0
The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan 0
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb 0
Ways Of Dying by Zakes Mda 0
Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie 0
Marabou Stork Nightmares by Irvine Welsh 0
The Orchard On Fire by Shena Mackay 0
Kyoko by Ryu Murakami 0
The Illusionist by Jennifer Johnston 0
The Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod 0
Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo 0
Dreams Of My Russian Summers by Andrei Makine 0
Hood by Emma Donoghue 0
To The Wedding by John Berger 0
Slow River by Nicola Griffith 0
Bongwater by Michael Hornburg 0


Daniel_Rf, Friday, 24 September 2021 13:56 (three weeks ago) link

Had to include High Fidelity for trolling purposes.

This is also the year that the first Left Behind book was released fyi.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 24 September 2021 13:57 (three weeks ago) link

I know it's her most popular, but The Blue Flower's my least favorite Fitzgerald.

Gonna vote for The Ghost Road or The Rings of Saturn

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 24 September 2021 13:58 (three weeks ago) link

This is now the era of books I remember being nominated for the Booker prize but haven't read.

edited to reflect developments which occurred (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 24 September 2021 14:04 (three weeks ago) link

Don't know how Sebald holds up tbh so won't vote.

"The Children Of The Dead by Elfriede Jelinek"

I know there has been talk of a translation for the past couple of years.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 September 2021 14:08 (three weeks ago) link

High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby

kill it with fire

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Friday, 24 September 2021 14:08 (three weeks ago) link

the rings of saturn is the best book ever written, it's the one

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Friday, 24 September 2021 14:08 (three weeks ago) link

Hey, I've read some of these.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
The Rings Of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
The Reader by Bernard Schlink

Hard not to go with Sebald out of those. The Hobb I read earlier this year and liked, though ultimately the trilogy was a bit of a time sink.

jmm, Friday, 24 September 2021 14:08 (three weeks ago) link

another Tyler book i've read and probably enjoyed but can't remember.
(oh, it's the one with the walking into the sea.)

but only this and HiFi this year...

koogs, Friday, 24 September 2021 14:12 (three weeks ago) link

The Ghost Road by Pat Barker
Slow River by Nicola Griffith
The Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod
The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Rings Of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
and probably High Fidelity by Nick Hornswaggle.

The Rings Of Saturn is great but The Unconsoled is my all time #1.

ledge, Friday, 24 September 2021 14:14 (three weeks ago) link

one of these i will read the unconsoled and probably love it

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Friday, 24 September 2021 14:30 (three weeks ago) link

one of these days*

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Friday, 24 September 2021 14:30 (three weeks ago) link

PKF ftw

I, the Jukebox Jury (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 24 September 2021 14:47 (three weeks ago) link

The Ghost Road by Pat Barker
The Rings Of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
High Fidelity by Nick Hornswaggle
The Information by Martin Amis
Marabou Stork Nightmares by Irvine Welsh
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
American Tabloid - James Ellroy
The Reader by Bernard Schlink

The Information I liked at the time but yeuch; similar with Marabou Stork Nightmares. This is between Pat Barker and Sebald really but I could talk myself into a vote for Ellroy.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 24 September 2021 15:18 (three weeks ago) link

I don't know if it's the best book, but I voted for Northern Lights (The Golden Compass) because I love it and have read it many times.

Mr. Cacciatore (Moodles), Friday, 24 September 2021 15:35 (three weeks ago) link

I like High Fidelity--or at least I liked it when I read it in '97 or thereabouts. What am I doing wrong?

Les hommes de bonbons (cryptosicko), Friday, 24 September 2021 16:22 (three weeks ago) link

it has a kind of contempt for people who are really into music, especially experimental music, it's kind of a self-loathing, but it gets generalised in an imo unforgivable way

edited to reflect developments which occurred (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 24 September 2021 16:28 (three weeks ago) link

too many 'kind of's, that's why I won't be appearing on any of these lists

edited to reflect developments which occurred (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 24 September 2021 16:29 (three weeks ago) link

Man, I really wasn’t reading contemporary fiction at this point.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Friday, 24 September 2021 17:42 (three weeks ago) link

“Blindness” is the only one I’ve read here, and I prefer “Seeing” so much more.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Friday, 24 September 2021 17:43 (three weeks ago) link

I am pretty sure I liked Behind The Scenes At The Museum. I can't remember if I read all of Reservation Blues or just a Granta excerpt.

lol @ the treatment of High Fidelity here

Knowing me, I am sure that tried to read the Gass but I don't think I got through it.

So Amis it is. A clumsy book in many respects but I remember that it made me laugh in spots, so it must have had some merit. It helps if you hate Amis as much as he hates himself. Bonus if you feel the same way about Julian Barnes, maybe? Dunno.

Richard Marxist (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 24 September 2021 18:57 (three weeks ago) link

I think I read "High Fidelity" but not sure. I did read "The Information". I feel ambivalent about voting for it though I enjoyed it well enough at the time.

o. nate, Friday, 24 September 2021 19:55 (three weeks ago) link

"Sabbath's Theater" was 1995(!) I would've voted for that.

o. nate, Friday, 24 September 2021 19:57 (three weeks ago) link

What’s the best place to start with Amis?

I tried with “Money” maybe 10-15 years ago and couldn’t make it beyond 30-40 pages.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Friday, 24 September 2021 20:07 (three weeks ago) link

I thought The Rachel Papers and Time's Arrow were pretty good, aged about 15 or 16.

edited to reflect developments which occurred (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 24 September 2021 20:11 (three weeks ago) link

voting for American Tabloid because of how it blew my teenage mind

calumerio, Friday, 24 September 2021 20:13 (three weeks ago) link

Blindness is good at making you feel like you can't see shit. I'm iffy about the book's metaphor of blindness for moral blindness which could be offensive to people who are actually blind.

I voted for northern lights a.k.a. the golden compass.

adam t. (abanana), Friday, 24 September 2021 20:59 (three weeks ago) link

Rachel Papers is squicky in places but accurate, and def of its time. Time's Arrow is well-executed pomo trickery.

The Information is cranky but not a starting place. So: London Fields. Start there and then go to Visiting Mrs. Nabokov.

FWIW (not that anyone asked) I think Barnes's romps are better than Amis's. Flaubert's Parrot and A History of the World in 10½ Chapters are both good keep-in-the-bathroom browseable books. Same pleasures as Italo Calvino and Nicholson Baker: if you like that sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you will like.

Metroland and Rachel Papers are close in sensibility and may as well be the same book as far as I am concerned.

I was (obviously) v susceptible to this kind of book in the nineties. I can't imagine going back to them with an adult eye, but for a 90s white male burb SNAG they were the right thing for one's nightstand.

Tone-Locrian (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 24 September 2021 21:23 (three weeks ago) link

have only read Reservation Blues and Northern Lights. Has any Pelevin shown up on these polls yet

JoeStork, Saturday, 25 September 2021 06:41 (three weeks ago) link

I like High Fidelity--or at least I liked it when I read it in '97 or thereabouts. What am I doing wrong?

I'd say a big part of the animosity, especially amongst British readers, is that it's a very average bloke-ish look at music fandom, not just in terms of being a straight white middle class male protagonist but also a certain skepticism against anything too artsy or high minded - remember the bit where he talks about having read a few big books and goes "they're about girls, right?" or something to that effect.

Another aspect is it's a book about a manchild finally getting it together that's super generous towards its manchild protagonist and views his previous terrible behaviour in relationships as just, like, steps in his self-actualization journey. Hornsby himself is quite scathing about this aspect of it these days.

Being honest though I read HF as a #teen and with no frame of reference for the relationship stuff I was just excited to read a novel featuring top5 lists and references to Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys and depictions of that most impossibly glamorous of lives, working at a record shop.

"Sabbath's Theater" was 1995(!) I would've voted for that.

It was in the longlist but had to drop it to get to 50, alongside final novels by Iris Murdoch and Patricia Highsmith.

Daniel_Rf, Sunday, 26 September 2021 10:14 (three weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Monday, 27 September 2021 00:01 (three weeks ago) link

Melancholy is one of several amazing Fosse novels, although maybe not your obvious Fosse starter with its complicated conceit - a fictionalized first-person biographical story of a tortured Norwegian old master painter, boring inside his mind at his most fraught, around the time he was admitted to the asylum.

abcfsk, Monday, 27 September 2021 12:22 (three weeks ago) link

I was hoping Patrick McCabe's "The Dead School" would have been included. I think its his best.

Otherwise, I am voting for "American Tabloid".

Saxophone Of Futility (Michael B), Monday, 27 September 2021 13:50 (three weeks ago) link

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

System, Tuesday, 28 September 2021 00:01 (three weeks ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1996

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 28 September 2021 16:49 (three weeks ago) link


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