Sunday, November 12, 2006
I'm a list addict. I like making them, first of all, but I also like reading them. Especially lists that catalog the "best" films, albums, etc. I don't always agree, but I tend to use the lists as a resource to discover stuff I wouldn't run into on my own. For instance, the AFI's much-debated "100 years, 100 movies" has provided me an endless (well, or not) supply of movies to watch, regardless of my opinion of some of them (Dr. Zhivago and E.T. better than the Third Man? What?).
But here's a list that took me by surprise: TIME magazine's list of the 100 best English-langauge novels since the magazine's inception in 1923. And you know what, the list is packed with great stuff. I've read--as of now--13 of the books, and I own 8 more that I'll get to eventually (and I spy around 6 more that I've been meaning to pick up when I see them). I guess those aren't good odds. But here--in a list of sorts--are some reasons why I like this list:
-They had the guts to include Watchmen: Easily one of the best things I've ever read, though I have a hard time getting people to believe me--see, "Watchmen" is a graphic novel. It's better than most novels I've read, including the "good," canonical ones that get ballyhooed left and right. Not only is it complex, thoughtful, and very well-written, but it's also entertaining. I don't know who is afraid of Virginia Woolf, but she should be afraid of Alan Moore.
-They don't shirk away from genre authors: Aside from the above, there's also Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Graham Greene, John le Carre, Neil Stephenson, William Gibson, Tolkien, Lewis, et cetera. And the books they pick by these guys (that I've read) are great.
-They included Marilynne Robinson: Which makes me feel all funny inside, like the one time I tried to climb the rope in gym class. Speaking of, she wrote a scathing review of Richard Dawson's "the God Delusion" in Harper's; quite a feat, seeing as how the magazine normally doesn't showcase Reformed Christians taking shots at well-respect atheists. And in this sense...
-...the list has a great representation of best contemporary writers in Christendom: Robinson, Greene, Percy, Lewis, Tolkien, Waugh, and--depending on who you ask--Burgess, Updike, Nabakov, Cather and Wallace.
"Wise Blood" isn't on there, but hey--can't win 'em all.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 11/12/2006 10:38:00 PM,
- At 12:51 AM, Qere Ketiv said...
Graham Greene? I think we've all seen "Bonanza".
My dad has a book titled "1000 movies you have to see before you die"--pretty sure that when he bought the book he had already seen at least half.
- At 12:56 AM, Jason said...
I actually know the book you're talking about; I think, at last count, I've seen around 400 or so.
- At 9:40 AM, Erica said...
Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead" probably ranks as my number 1 just-give-it-up-now-Erica-because-there's-no-way-you'll-ever-write-like-that book.