March 2012


the original 1933 Modern Library dust jacket of Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

  • Author:  Charlotte Brontë (1816  -  1855)
  • Rank:  #20
  • Published:  1847
  • Publisher:  Smith, Elder & Co.
  • Pages:  494
  • First Line:  “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”
  • Last Lines:  ” ‘My Master,’ he says, ‘has forewarned me.  Daily he announces more distinctly, – Surely I come quickly!’ and hourly I more eagerly respond, – ‘Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!’ “
  • ML Edition:  #64  (three dust jackets – 1933, 1944, 1957, 1934 British version, illustrated acetate version); gold hardcover (two dust jackets), Modern Library classics
  • Film:  many, incl. 1934 (**), 1944 (***), 1996 (***), 2011 (****)
  • First Read:  Fall, 2005

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A young Philip Roth in 1968 about to set everyone alight with Portnoy's Complaint.

“I write fiction and I’m told it’s autobiography, I write autobiography and I’m told it’s fiction, so since I’m so dim and they’re so smart, let them decide what it is or it isn’t.”  (Deception)

My 1st Edition Philip Roth collection.

Philip Roth has not won the Nobel Prize.  But it seems like he’s won everything else.  And if the Nobel Committee were to realize that there are countries outside of Europe (hell, outside of Sweden – nine Swedes have now won the Nobel Prize in Literature – I know it’s your country, but that’s ridiculous), they would look at Roth again.  He has written award winning books, award winning short stories, he has written on the art of writing and on his contemporaries.  He has helped to build the knowledge of European Literature in the United States, being the editor of Writers from the Other Europe Series from Penguin that brought, among others, Milan Kundera to the forefront in the States.  With John Updike and Saul Bellow now gone, he is the last of that breed, those writers who were obsessed with sex, obsessed with life, who gave us great novels that were cultural as well as literary milestones.

He is one of my favorites.  You might not want to shake his hand, or even know him.  But you should definitely read him.

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the first edition of Philip Roth's best book: The Ghost Writer (1979)

The Ghost Writer

  • Author:  Philip Roth  (b. 1933)
  • Rank:  #20
  • Published:  1979
  • Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Pages:  222
  • First Line:  “It was the last daylight hour of a December afternoon more than twenty years ago – I was twenty-three, writing and publishing my first short stories, and like many a Bildungsroman hero before me, already contemplating my own massive Bildungsroman – when I arrived at his hideaway to meet the great man.”
  • Last Line:  ” ‘It’s like being married to Tolstoy,’ he said, and left me to make my feverish notes while he started off after the runaway spouse, some five minutes now into her doomed journey in search of a less noble calling.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Acclaim:  Pulitzer Prize Finalist (chosen by Committee for award, over-ruled by Board); National Book Award Finalist; National Book Critics Circle Finalist
  • Film Version:  tv movie (1984)
  • First Read:  Spring, 1995

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Beauty and the Beast during their best song in the film ("Something There"). The best Animated Film of the 90's.

1990  -  1999

Total Films I’ve Seen:  1217

Films That Make the Top 5 in Any Category:  53

Best Film Not to Make the Top 5 in Any Category:  The Shawshank Redemption

Film of the Decade:  GoodFellas

Worst Film of the Decade:  Showgirls

Worst Best Picture Nominee of the Decade:  Braveheart

Worst Film of the Decade Made by a Top 100 Director:  North

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The two best performances of the year, in the best film of the year.

The 72nd annual Academy Awards, for the film year 1999.  The nominations were announced on February 15, 2000 and the awards were held on March 26, 2000.

Best Picture:  American Beauty

  • The Sixth Sense
  • The Insider
  • The Cider House Rules
  • The Green Mile

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Magnolia

Most Surprising Omission:  Being John Malkovich

Rank (out of 83) Among Best Picture Years:  #39

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“The car I’ve always wanted and now I have it. I rule!”

My Top 20:

  1. American Beauty
  2. Magnolia
  3. The End of the Affair
  4. Three Kings
  5. Eyes Wide Shut
  6. All About My Mother
  7. Topsy-Turvy
  8. Being John Malkovich
  9. Princess Mononoke
  10. The Sixth Sense
  11. The Talented Mr. Ripley
  12. Toy Story 2
  13. The Insider
  14. Sweet and Lowdown
  15. Run Lola Run
  16. Following
  17. Fight Club
  18. Limbo
  19. Abre los ojos
  20. Man on the Moon (more…)

The best novel so far this century.Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

  • Author:  Susanna Clarke  (b. 1959)
  • Rank:  #22
  • Published:  2004
  • Publisher:  Bloomsbury
  • Pages:  846
  • First Line:  “Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians.”
  • Last Lines:  “They kissed once.  Then he turned upon his heel and disappeared into the Darkness.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Acclaim:  Man Booker Prize Longlist; Time Novel of the Year; Hugo Award
  • Film:  none
  • First Read:  Fall, 2005

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