Thursday, May 11, 2006

Reading is Fundamental

The upcoming issue of the New York Times Book Review attempts to identify "the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years."

The winner? Well I didn't post a picture of Toni Morrison's Beloved cover for my health (though I'm told doing so allows me to live eternal life like the freaks in Being John Malkovich, so maybe I did). I've never read this work, but I imagine it contains the words "Oooh, child" and "Hmm mmm" and "Come 'ere, sugar" an awful lot.

My vote probably goes to John Kennedy Toole's posthumously published A Confederacy of Dunces, even though it was penned outside of the editor's query's framework. Still, it was actually issued in the correct time frame, so um, go fuck yourself, rules sticklers.

What say you, BiblioSlackers: What Is the Best Work of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years?

19 Comments:

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad day...sad indeed. you have been reduced to writing about Oprah book club/movie shite.

 
At 3:37 PM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

"The Things They Carried" is an outstanding book and really the only thing I truly enjoyed reading in the one literature class I took in college. We also read Toni Morrison's "Sula" in that class, which interested no one. It wa sthe "featured" book of the class, which is funny because my school was something like 96% White-Irish-Catholic with approximately 6 African-American students. None of which were in that class. That book sucked balls.

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger ethan said...

i'd write something sarcastic about your comment, anon, but i can't - my valve is really bothering me.

long live ignatius. and jones. definitely jones.

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger Boski93 said...

We all know that those who put this list together are all "Communiss".

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Oprah ain't got shit on me...I am the book club fuckin' master.

So we've got a handful of votes for Confederacy, how bout some other tomes of interest?

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger Jacob Eli said...

Don't know the year it was published, but it's Garp for me...

However, the concept of there being one "best fiction work of the past 25 years" bothers me to the core. I mean, the enjoyment of literature is one of the most subjective things out there, how can this one person claim to have "the" answer?

 
At 5:00 PM, Blogger MDS said...

My Top 5 works of American fiction published in the last 25 years:

5. "The Things They Carried"
4. "The Plot Against America"
3. "The Cider House Rules"
2. "The Corrections"
1. "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay"

I notice that all five are by white males. Maybe I have a racist/sexist blind spot for Toni Morrison's brilliance, but she doesn't do it for me.

 
At 5:18 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Jake, that's the thing -- it was survey style, so it was more a collection of subjective responses than people saying "This is right." I don't think it's as ridiculous as it sounds, it's the same thing as querying all the Baseball Writers and coming up with Babe Ruth as the best ballplayer ever.

As for your Garp assertion, that's definitely one of the better books I've ever read, and one of the few that made me weep openly. Wait, I didn't say that.

MDS, do you only read books with "The" in the title? Holy jeez. And while I applaud your list, I think The Plot Against America was atrocious...I read 100 pages and put it down due to horrendousness.

 
At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Garp was published in '78. We've got rules here, you know.

 
At 5:41 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

I knew there was a reason i didn't pick it originally. Technically, I don't think Dunces counts either.

Rules. Bah.

 
At 6:26 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

I second "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," and would also nominate "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" by Sussanna Clarke.

 
At 7:06 PM, Blogger ismateo said...

durnit, scifi/fantasy nevers get no love from these literary types, until you're Lord of the Rings and named the book of the century. but 'Ender's Game' is waaaaayyyyyy better than 'Beloved'. and so is 'Speaker for the Dead'. and the 'Book of the New Sun' (a four novel series by Gene Wolfe) is one of the best pieces of literature EVER.

and no 'L.A. Confidential'? alrightythen!

 
At 7:43 PM, Blogger DannyNoonan said...

"Cryptonomicon," and the whole "Baroque Cycle," by Neal Stephenson are among the best books I've ever read. I would also say "Kavalier and Clay."

I just realized that I havn't read a fiction book that wasn't recommended by Paul in the last 10 years or so. I should really start thinking on my own or something.

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger MDS said...

Ace, I'm racist, sexist and article-ist. A book has to be written by a white, written by a man, and starting with a "The" for me to read it. It's surprising to me that you didn't like the beginning of The Plot Against America because I absolutely loved the beginning. I thought it got a little strange at the very end and that's why it slipped to No. 4 on my list.

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Danny Noonan is correct.

 
At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My vote is for the Kite Runner- amazing book.

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger ethan said...

is kite runner fiction?

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Kite Runner is largely autobiographical, but it's definitely fiction...I actually enjoyed that book quite a bit, but most people I know didn't care for it as much.

 
At 4:16 AM, Blogger Lope de Aguirre said...

VALIS by Philip K. Dick. Or otherwise "Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Cornbelt" by Tristan Egolf which is a bit similar to "A confederacy of dunces".

 

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