Muriel Spark poll

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Yes, one of those two. Although lot's of other worthy candidates there.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 May 2021 14:58 (five months ago) link

Love: Memento Mori, The Comforters, The Bachelors, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and The Driver's Seat. The Abbess of Crewe too. I have trouble remembering the early '70s ones.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 14 May 2021 15:00 (five months ago) link

Add A Far Cry from Kensington, The Girls of Slender Means and a few more to that list.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 May 2021 15:03 (five months ago) link

There is a good article by David Lodge in The Novelist at the Crossroads, I think, in which he discussed the use of flash forwards in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Then there is Arthur C. Danto, who named a book after Sandy Stranger's thesis.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 May 2021 15:06 (five months ago) link

I read Memento Mori recently and didn't think it was funny although it was clearly meant to be. I like The Drivers Seat and Peckham Rye but Jean Brodie is the one for me. A friend who's a Spark completest says The Abess is the one.

Cocteau Twinks (jed_), Friday, 14 May 2021 15:20 (five months ago) link

Heh, looks like Lodge's initial opinion was not so favorable:
https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2010/08/19/prime-muriel-spark/

Reviewing The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1961 I declared myself “beguiled…but not really stirred or involved or enlightened.” It was some time before I realized that the disappointment was entirely my own fault and that the novel was a masterpiece.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 May 2021 17:26 (five months ago) link

Do people like The Finishing School? Haven't read that one.

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 May 2021 18:40 (five months ago) link

I read it two summers ago in 2019. It was well up to her standards and very readable. I've read 80% of her novels; it's not in her top five for me, but I'd put it in the top half.

sharpening the contraindications (Aimless), Friday, 14 May 2021 18:58 (five months ago) link

Yep. Her powers didn't slacken.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 14 May 2021 19:05 (five months ago) link

lazy drunk thoughts but mandelbaum gate is weird and clever. might vote.

Fizzles, Friday, 14 May 2021 19:53 (five months ago) link

mandelbaum gate was probably her most self-revealing novel and quite good, too. I threw it my vote on the theory that it deserved some love that it was not otherwise likely to get in this poll. feel free to join me.

sharpening the contraindications (Aimless), Friday, 14 May 2021 23:10 (five months ago) link

Mandelbaum Gate didn't leave much of an impression on me - I should probably reread it sometime.

I think I'll read a couple more before I vote. I've got The Only Problem and The Hothouse by the East River sitting around but life with a puppy is making it hard to pick up books. Special love of chewing Robert Browning.

woof, Sunday, 16 May 2021 15:42 (five months ago) link

The Only Problem and LWI are among the few that made no impression.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 16 May 2021 16:29 (five months ago) link

i went on a big spark jag at one point but it was like 15 years ago so i don't even remember which ones i read any more. i voted for "the comforters" bc i do remember the meta aspect of that book blowing my mind at the time.

na (NA), Monday, 17 May 2021 14:26 (five months ago) link

too many masterpieces in too many different ways to vote. i'm split between the comforters and the driver's seat, both of which seem more or less perfect to me.

vivian dark, Tuesday, 18 May 2021 14:17 (five months ago) link

Yes. By the way, do you have a friend named clare quil?

Working in the POLL Mine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 18 May 2021 14:39 (five months ago) link

I've read 10 of these, and actually have Aiding and Abetting on the top of my to-read pile at the moment. Of the ones I've read, The Driver's Seat is my favorite, would probably put The Girls of Slender Means or The Bachelors at #2.

cwkiii, Wednesday, 19 May 2021 13:02 (five months ago) link

The Comforters is also great and I'm happy to see it getting so much love here, didn't realize it was held in such high regard!

cwkiii, Wednesday, 19 May 2021 13:05 (five months ago) link

Been at them over the last week or two -

Hothouse by the East River - I mean this is what I want, cold, strange, spare nightmare farce, but it doesn't seem to quite come off. Feels like I'm reading a 50s absurdist play or something & there's something a bit 'oh ok' about where it goes.

Abbess of Crewe - that's the stuff. I don't really care about Watergate, but power forcing its self-contained system of control, oppression and surveillance into myth & thinking that it's stepping outside time… I mean I don't know what is going on in this book, so I'm happy and it's a contender for my vote. Will re-read.

A Far Cry from Kensington - This was very likeable and I can see why it gets a radio 4 adaption. But it seems less interesting than Loitering with Intent which iirc has a more satisfying game on Sparky's occult-fraud-art theme in the same milieu.

Just in the middle of The Comforters. No idea why I haven't read this before. I haven't been interested in novels doing meta things in a long time, but damn this just pulls it off.

Not to Disturb next maybe. Earliest one I won't have read, after I finish the comforters. I was thinking about slowly collecting the neat little Polygon hardbacks from a couple of years ago but threw that idea out when I realised I actually like the 70s penguins with slightly tacky photos of faces on the cover, and that was cheapest Not to Disturb option. New English Library feel to them.

woof, Tuesday, 25 May 2021 12:48 (four months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Saturday, 29 May 2021 00:01 (four months ago) link

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

System, Sunday, 30 May 2021 00:01 (four months ago) link

only ever tried miss jean brodie, which i could not really get into

picked up copies of The Only Problem (1984) & Reality and Dreams (1996) for cheap at a book sale this weekend
so now own those plus Memento Mori (1959) & Symposium (1990)...

...will try one of that bunch sometime this summer~

johnny crunch, Monday, 7 June 2021 14:35 (four months ago) link

The Comforters fell apart a bit in the middle; there's some slackening when Caroline and Laurence go for a bit, the meta/madness slips out of focus and the pieces are just moving around.

Not to Disturb - these early 70s ones novellas of the already dead keep doing it for me. I keep seeing this one described as satire or parody,
that it's about servant problem or locked room novels, but as per it seems stranger than that - what I'm actually enjoying is hanging between the style (present-tense, hypnotic) and how uncomfortable the play with predestination makes the whole set-up. Wedding scene is something else again.

Voted for Abbess of Crewe in the end. May take a break, or move on to The Takeover.

woof, Monday, 7 June 2021 15:04 (four months ago) link

woof, you're right about The Comforters.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 7 June 2021 15:10 (four months ago) link

the driver's seat absolutely slaps, thank you poll

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 18 June 2021 02:37 (four months ago) link


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