“It was Sunday. Chance was in the garden. He moved slowly, dragging the green hose from one path to the next, carefully watching the flow of the water. Very gently he let the stream touch every plant, every flower, every branch of the garden. Plants were like people; they needed care to live, to survive their diseases, and to die peacefully.” (first lines)

My Top 10

  1. Being There
  2. Kramer vs. Kramer
  3. Apocalypse Now
  4. Picnic at Hanging Rock
  5. Love on the Run
  6. The Muppet Movie
  7. Nosferatu the Vampyre
  8. La Cage Aux Folles
  9. Starting Over
  10. Wise Blood
  11. Woyzeck

Note:  So why are there eleven films?  Well, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized The Muppet Movie has characters who were created for The Muppet Show and that by the current rules of the Academy, that means its an adapted script.  Yet, I had already gone through the effort of writing the review of Woyzeck and I didn’t want to eliminate it.  So this list goes to 11.  Too bad it’s not 1984, but that script is original anyway. (more…)

Sinclair Lewis is king of the second 100, with four books.  He is on the cover of Time Magazine, 15 years after winning the Nobel Prize.  Have you ever read anything by him?

Sinclair Lewis is king of the second 100, with four books. Here he is on the cover of Time Magazine, 15 years after winning the Nobel Prize, yet now he is mostly forgotten or ignored. Have you ever read anything by him?

This list works a bit differently than the Top 100.  First of all, this is not a ranked list.  Except for the first three listed titles, they are placed on this list chronologically.  Second, I have not been back through each one of these titles the way I have gone through the Top 100.  Some of these I haven’t re-read in years while every one of the Top 100 were re-read before I wrote on them.  There won’t be individual posts on these books.  Think of this list as less the definitive second 100 as 100 great novels that are worth a read.

Don’t mistake me.  These aren’t just books I enjoy reading.  I hope to start a series soon called Great Reads (which will all get individual posts), which are all about the books I really enjoy, but that don’t really belong on a list like this one, let alone the Top 100.  These are all great novels (though some might also end up in Great Reads).

What about your book, the one you were surprised didn’t make the Top 100 and are even more surprised didn’t make this list?  Well, I had to pare it down (I originally typed out over 125 novels and considered far more).  Just imagine that whatever book you’re thinking of that didn’t make the list was one of the last ones I cut.  Well, unless your book is Infinite Jest, Middlemarch, On the Road or anything by Jane Austen or Henry James.  If you thought those might ever make the list you have clearly never read anything else I have ever posted on literature and are probably brand new to the site.  Welcome!

Now, as for those first three titles.  Well, I made the decision not to re-approach my list while in the process of doing these posts (of course I didn’t know it would take over three years to get the whole list done).  Because of that, sometimes things come up that I realized belonged on the list.  The first of them was something I had somehow never read and as soon as I read it (mid-2011), I realized it should have been on the list.  The second was one I went back and re-read in the summer of 2012 after re-watching the film with Veronica and I realized I had long under-estimated it and it should have been on the list.  The third of them I have the best excuse for – it hadn’t even been written when I did the list.  But it belongs on it.  So those are the de facto other Top 100 books. (more…)

The Penguin Great Books cover of Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

  • Rank:  #8
  • Author:  Joseph Conrad  (1857  –  1924)
  • Published:  1899  (serial),  1902  (book)
  • Publisher:  Blackwood’s Magazine  (serial);  William Blackwood  (book)
  • Pages:  96
  • First Line:  “The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest.”
  • Last Line:  “The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flower sombre under an overcast sky – seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.”
  • Acclaim:  Modern Library Top 100 English Language Novels of the 20th Century #67
  • ML Version:  included in Great Modern Short Stories (#168); gold hardcover (1993 – published with Youth and Typhoon); 1999 (Modern Library classics)
  • Film:  long planned by Orson Welles; 1979 / 2001 (as Apocalypse Now / Apocalypse Now Redux – ****); 1993 TV film
  • First Read:  Fall 1991 (more…)
  • A scan of my Bantam Classic Edition of Joseph Conrad’s 1904 novel, Nostromo.

    Nostromo

  • Author:  Joseph Conrad  (1857-1924)
  • Rank:  #89
  • Published:  1904
  • Publisher:  Harper & Bros.
  • Pages:  404  (Bantam Classic)
  • First Line:  “In the time of Spanish rule, and for many years afterwards, the town of Sulaco – the luxuriant beauty of the orange gardens bears witness to its antiquity – had never been commercially anything more important than a coastal port with a fairly large local trade in oxhides and indigo.”
  • Last Lines:  “It was another of Nostromo’s triumphs, the greatest, the most enviable, the most sinister of all.  In that true cry of undying passion that seemed to ring aloud from Punta Mala to Azuera and away to the bright line of the horizon, overhung by a big white cloud shining like a mass of solid silver, the genius of the magnificent capataz de cargadores dominated the dark gulf containing his conquests of treasure and love.”
  • ML Edition:  #275 – two dust jackets (1951, 1968)
  • Film:  David Lean died before making his version.  A BBC version was made in 1997.
  • Acclaim:  ML List (#47)
  • Read:  Summer, 1998 (more…)