Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1960

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"Lucette travels with her mother and daddy and I want you to meet them because a mother and daddy have to be unselfish to share their only child with the world," the preacher said. "Here they are friends---Mr. and Mrs. Carmody!"
While a man and a woman moved into the light, Rayber had a clear vision of plowed ground, of the shaded red ridges that separated him from the lean figure approaching. He had let himself imagine that the field had an undertow that would drag his father back and suck him under. but he came on inexorably, only stopping now and then to put a finger in his shoe ad put out clod of dirt.
"He's going to take me back with him," he said.
"Back with him where?" his uncle growled. "He ain't got any place to take you back to."
"He can't take me back with him?"
"Not where you were before."
"He can't take me back to town?"
"I never said nothing about town," his uncle said.

in The Violent Bear It Away, Rayber is only with his old uncle the kidnapping prophet for four days, but that's long enough to change him forever. Many years later, Rayber's own nephew, an orphaned infant, is taken by the old man and stays with him in the same remote clearing, aptly named Powerhead, until the old man dies, and fourteen-year-old Yarwarter,smokes the joint and the body with it, thus burning his great-uncle's commandments regarding his burial---actually things don't go quite the way he means them to, but it's a start: the prophet taught him that it's not enough to say the right words, you have to show not tell, so this is his first NO acted on and out.

He makes his way to Rayber's house in the city, with his five-year-old son, who is mentally limited (though responsive to the little training he has received,in a briefly attended day care). The prophet had groomed Tarwater to get in there and baptize the child, someday, and that day is/must NOT be here.

Since this is O'Connor,the compulsively rationalistic and aspiring stoic Rayber and Tarwater are of course radically polarized in and between themselves, and we know how this is gonna go, but the author seems at her most deep-focus and implicitly empathetic: the increasingly hungry and food-proof Tarwater dreads "sitting on the green bank" with the hugely fat, rock-like prophet, blessed with the endless loaves and fishes that are his Reward after so much struggle. And Rayber his own secular-grounded aftershocks of stasis:
He had knwon by that time that his stability depended on the little boy's presence. He could control his terrifying love as long as it had its focus on Bishop but if anything happened to the child, he would have to face it in itself. Then the whole world would become his idiot child ...He would have to anesthetize his life. He shook his head to clear it of these unpleasant thoughts. After it had cleared, they returned one by one. He felt a sinister pull on his consciousness, the familiar undertow of expectation, as if he were still a child waiting for Christ.
Along the way, there are many granular images, breadcrumbs for all: weeds through gravel like veins, and a woman having a moment for "thoughts on the wall like illegible handwriting." Been there.

dow, Tuesday, 20 April 2021 20:40 (seven months ago) link

Just now read that, last night and this afternoon: 148 non-breezy, perfectly paced pages in the '64 mass market Signet pb Three By Flannery O'Connor,, in with Wise Blood and A Good Man Is Hard To Find.

dow, Tuesday, 20 April 2021 20:45 (seven months ago) link

He makes his way to Rayber's house in the city, with his five-year-old son Of course I mean Tarwater makes his way to the house in the city where Rayber lives with *his* five-year son [Bishop, same as his missing mother's maiden name], dammit, sorry.

dow, Tuesday, 20 April 2021 20:56 (seven months ago) link

"Violent Bear it Away" is the only one of these that I've read, at least that I can remember. I think I may have read "To Kill a Mockingbird" at some point long ago.

o. nate, Tuesday, 20 April 2021 21:12 (seven months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 21 April 2021 00:01 (seven months ago) link

I've read Mockingbird and Liebowitz and Peckham Rye and Weirdstone but I don't feel strongly about any of them.

Scheming politicians are captivating, and it hurts (ledge), Wednesday, 21 April 2021 07:49 (seven months ago) link

I've only read Mockingbird and Canticle. Both have good parts but I'm not voting.

wasdnuos (abanana), Wednesday, 21 April 2021 21:49 (seven months ago) link

Of the few I've read, nothing stands out as a favorite. I'll abstain, too.

sharpening the contraindications (Aimless), Wednesday, 21 April 2021 22:07 (seven months ago) link

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

System, Thursday, 22 April 2021 00:01 (seven months ago) link

i figured mockingbird would've stormed this. was it too obvious a choice?

koogs, Thursday, 22 April 2021 01:19 (seven months ago) link

Yeah, I'm shocked by this too - haven't read Updike but he sounds very unappealing.

Don't think we've been afraid of obvious picks in these before - On The Road, Animal Farm, the two Kafkas.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 22 April 2021 09:05 (seven months ago) link

I didn’t vote in this but maybe a lot of people associate it with being a school book, which can sometimes go against it?

Scamp Granada (gyac), Thursday, 22 April 2021 09:16 (seven months ago) link

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1961

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 22 April 2021 09:44 (seven months ago) link

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