The best short story collection since Dubliners.

The best short story collection since Dubliners.

Interpreter of Maladies

  • Author:  Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Published:  1999
  • Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Company
  • Pages:  198
  • First Line:  “The notice informed them that it was a temporary matter: for five days their electricity would be cut off for one hour, beginning at eight P.M.”
  • Last Lines:  “I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first.  Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept.  As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.”
  • Acclaim:  Pulitzer Prize
  • Film Version:  none
  • First Read:  Summer 2000

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Faulkner is the king of the list.  Does that really surprise you?

Faulkner is the king of the list. Does that really surprise you?

Before I put up the full Top 100 list (and do the post for #1), I am tossing up this bit of various trivia and statistics about the novels on my Top 100 list and on the 101-200 list.

Please note that none of the lists involving 101-200 have numbers attached because I didn’t rank them.

  • Longest Top 100 Novel:  In Search of Lost Time  (4651 pages)
  • Shortest Top 100 Novel:  Heart of Darkness  (96 pages)
  • Earliest Top 100 Novel:  Gulliver’s Travels  (1726)
  • Latest Top 100 Novel:  Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel  (2004)
  • Latest Top 200 Novel:  The Night Circus / The Tiger’s Wife  (2011) (more…)

The Modern Library’s most egregious oversight.

Beloved

  • Rank:  #14
  • Author:  Toni Morrison  (b. 1931)
  • Published:  1987
  • Publisher:  Alfred Knopf
  • Pages:  275
  • First Line:  “124 was spiteful.”
  • Last Line:  “Beloved.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  1998  (***)
  • Acclaim:  Pulitzer Prize; NY Times Best American Novel of the Past 25 Years; All-TIME List
  • First Read:  Spring, 1995 (more…)

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 great punch thrown to Hitler's face on the cover of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

  • Author:  Michael Chabon
  • Rank:  #34
  • Published:  2000
  • Publisher:  Random House
  • Pages:  639
  • First Line:  “In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier’s greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini.”
  • Last Line:  “When Rosa and Joe picked it up they saw that Sammy had taken a pen and, bearing down, crossed out the name of the never-more-than-theoretical family that was printed above the address, and in its place written, sealed in a neat black rectangle, knotted by the stout cord of an ampersand, the words KAVALIER & CLAY.”
  • Acclaim:  Pulitzer Prize; National Book Critics Circle Finalist; PEN/Faulkner Finalist
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  in production hell
  • First Read:  Fall, 2000 (more…)

the mid-80's Penguin paperback version of Humboldt's Gift that I read for my Lit class my Junior Year and which I still have (with all attendant highlighting)

Humboldt’s Gift

  • Author:  Saul Bellow  (1915  –  2005)
  • Rank:  #36
  • Published:  1975
  • Publisher:  Viking
  • Pages:  487
  • First Line:  “The book of ballads published by Von Humboldt Fleisher in the Thirties was an immediate hit.”
  • Last Lines:  ” ‘Search me,’ I said.  ‘I’m a city boy myself.  They must be crocuses.’ “
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  none
  • Acclaim:  Pulitzer Prize; last novel before winning Nobel Prize
  • First Read:  September, 1994 (more…)

The posthumous Pulitzer winner: Confederacy of Dunces

Confederacy of Dunces

  • Author:  John Kennedy Toole  (1937  –  1969)
  • Rank:  #38
  • Published:  1980
  • Publisher:  Louisiana State University Press
  • Pages:  405
  • First Line:  “A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head.”
  • Last Line:  “Taking the pigtail in one of his paws, he pressed it warmly to his wet moustache.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  long rumored, never made
  • Acclaim:  Pulitzer Prize
  • First Read:  August, 2000 (more…)