Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ny times best of list

The NY Times has a list of the best works of American fiction in the last 25 years--see here. Not to be a feminist or anything (but wait: I am a feminist)--has anyone noticed that there are only two women on this list? And isn't it excessive to have 5 books by Philip Roth? (I know--these are the choices of eminent literary sages; but still.)
What about Jane Smiley? What about Grace Paley? What about Rosellen Brown?
As homework for this course, please read A Thousand Acres, Paley's Collected Stories, and Brown's Civil Wars.
For extra credit, propose your own list.


Blogger Brian Kornell said...

The list is basically Roth, Cormac McCarthy, John Updike and Don DeLillo with a few other people thrown in. I think they could have come up with a more diverse list.
What about Reasons to Live by Amy Hempel. That's the only one I can think of right now. I'll be back with a couple more.

5/16/2006 1:03 PM  
Blogger Gina Ventre said...

Housekeeping made the list and I couldn't agree more. That book changed the way I write.

Roth does get a lot of play but I haven't read him so I don't know if its warranted. I'm afraid I'll be bored by him.

I would suggest Feast of Love by Charles Baxter because I suggest that for every best-of list.

5/17/2006 10:50 AM  
Blogger Karen at Pen in Hand said...

I'm a big fan of Philip Roth, so I won't make digs there. My gripe with the list is not so much lack of diversity but the sheer predictability of titles that people like to say they've read. I know the rap on "A Confederacy of Dunces," but come ON. Does anyone really think that's the BEST NOVEL they've read? Really? Anyway, I liked the Feast of Love, too. I would also mention Regeneration by Pat Barker. And one of my more contemporary faves, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

5/17/2006 7:47 PM  
Blogger Sean Santa said...

that list was sort of crappy. i like roth a lot but i find it impossible to believe hes written one fifth of the best literature of the past 25 years.

id probably put michael cunningham on the list, stephen king, and claudia rankine too, since im obsessed with her. and going to marry her



5/17/2006 10:00 PM  
Blogger erieblue said...

How about Gilead (woman)? How about Bel Canto (woman)? How about that Charles Johnson book about the slave coming to America (man)?

5/18/2006 10:11 AM  
Blogger erieblue said...

I looked at the list of judges (many of whom are women)but notice the article says these are who we asked, not these are who responded--a very different kettle of fish.

5/18/2006 10:15 AM  
Blogger lucette said...

Charles Johnson--that's The Middle Passage--one of the best books of the 20th century, I think.
Baxter: yes. Hempl and Barker: yes, yes (although Barker is a Brit). The Hours, for god's sake (thanks, Sean).
Also, if you take American to include Canada (as in North American): Munro and Atwood; and my new love, Robertson Davies.

5/18/2006 6:47 PM  
Blogger Adventure Eddy said...

How about Jodi Picoult? She's brilliant. I met her in Winchester recently and she pointed out the line that's drawn between 'literary' and 'popular' fiction - and how one exclusifies the other.

But, hey, who expected the NY Times to come up with anything apart from a neat little list of 'approved' writers.

I think there's a huge arrogance in some circles, who exclude 'popular' writers and only acknowledge 'literary' authors.

Let's face it. Look at Stephen King. A man with a masterful turn of phrase, who writes books that entrance and entertain millions of readers. He's considered a 'schlockmiester' and his considerable talent is ignored. Dan Brown would have been dismissed too, if his clunky thriller The Da Vinci code hadn't become the phenomenom it did.

I think the NY Times should publish a list of the real authors of the last quarter century. The ones who wrote books that people wanted to read. Books that stopped people watching TV or surfing the net for a few hours every day.

Why is being a popular author so frowned upon by the literary 'elite?'

6/02/2006 6:40 AM  

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