“Then Renton was hit by a wave of shock which threatened to knock him incoherent.  A girl came into the room.  As he watched her, a coldness came over him.  She was the double of Dianne, but this girl looked barely secondary school age.  It took him a few seconds to realize that it was Dianne.”  (p 145)

My Top 10

  1. Trainspotting
  2. The English Patient
  3. The Crucible
  4. Cold Comfort Farm
  5. Emma
  6. Hamlet
  7. The Birdcage
  8. Romeo + Juliet
  9. Mother Night
  10. Star Trek: First Contact

note:  A fantastic Top 5 and a strong Top 10 with a few more listed down at the bottom.  A rare year in that it’s also fantastic for Original Screenplay.  This year has the highest average score for the two Screenplay awards in history. (more…)

“Kay could see how Michael stood to receive their homage.  He reminded her of statues in Rome, statues of those Roman emperors of antiquity, who, by divine right, held the power of life and death over their fellow men.  One hand was on his hip, the profile of his face showed a cold proud power, his body was carelessly, arrogantly at ease, weight resting on one foot slightly behind the other.  The caporegimes stood before him.  In that moment Kay knew that everything Connie had accused Michael of was true.” (p 419)

My Top 10

  1. The Godfather
  2. Sleuth
  3. Play It Again Sam
  4. Cabaret
  5. Deliverance
  6. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex
  7. The Heartbreak Kid
  8. Fat City
  9. Travels with My Aunt
  10. Avanti

Note:  My full list is fourteen films long but three of the of the other four are reviewed below because of award nominations (The Emigrants, Sounder, Frenzy) leaving just one for the list down at the bottom. (more…)

The Top 100 Novels.

The Top 100 Novels.

Here it is.  My Top 100 Novels – the complete list.

The intro was here.  The second 100 can be found here.  Various statistics and trivia about the list can be found here.

Here is the list: (more…)

the Dell mass market of Vonnegut's seminal book: Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death

  • Author:  Kurt Vonnegut Jr.  (1922  –  2007)
  • Rank:  #31
  • Published:  1969
  • Publisher:  Delacorte
  • Pages:  215
  • First Line:  “All this happened, more or less.”
  • Last Line:  “One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, ‘Poo-tee-weet?’ “
  • Acclaim:  Modern Library Top 100 English Language Novels of the 20th Century #18; All-TIME List; Nebula nominee; Hugo nominee
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  1972 (*** – dir. George Roy Hill)
  • First Read:  September, 1994 (more…)

the Dell paperback cover of Vonnegut's Mother Night

Mother Night

  • Author:  Kurt Vonnegut  (1922  –  2007)
  • Rank:  #37
  • Published:  1961
  • Publisher:  Fawcett
  • Pages:  192
  • First Line:  “My name is Howard W. Campbell, Jr.”
  • Last Line:  “Auf wiedersehen?
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  1996  (***.5 – dir. Keith Gordon)
  • First Read:  September, 1994 (more…)

Our complete Vonnegut collection

“Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn’t mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.”  (Hocus Pocus – Kurt Vonnegut)

There’s a great Doonesbury strip from late 1977.  Mike and Zonker have moved into a friend’s dorm room to house-sit while he is gone for two weeks.  They start to get excited about being in a dorm again and Zonker says “You put up the Hobbit posters!  I’ll start making the cinder block bookcase!” and Mike replies, “In a minute!  I want to unwind with a little Vonnegut first.” (a reprint of the strip can be found in “Any Grooming Hints for Your Fans, Rollie?”)

This seems to pretty well sum up Kurt Vonnegut.  He’s one of the great writers of the 20th century, a master of meta-fiction, of black humor, of moral issues.  He is the quintessential writer to be discovered in college.  It’s simply not the same if you don’t read him before you graduate.  Of course, he ages better than many beloved college classics.  His Cat’s Cradle has already appeared in my top 100 and Mother Night and Slaughterhouse-Five will also be making appearances, though not for a while.

He is also one of the authors whom I avidly collect in First Edition.  So, to kick off my first piece on my For Love of Books series, I am going to be discussing Vonnegut and his books. (more…)

  • The 1st Edition of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle (1963)

    Cat’s Cradle

  • Author:  Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
  • Rank:  #91
  • Published:  1963
  • Publisher:  Holt, Rinehart and Winston
  • Pages:  191  (Laurel paperback)
  • First Lines:  “Call me Jonah.  My parents did, or nearly did.  They called me John.”
  • Last Line:  “If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.”
  • ML Edition:  None
  • Film:  None
  • Acclaim:  Hugo Award Nominee
  • Read:  Summer, 1994 (more…)

Be warned: your favorite book may not appear here. One of my favorite books doesn’t appear here (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). It’s hilarious and I love it, but it’s not great literature. There’s a difference between my favorite and what I think is the best. Star Wars has long been my favorite film. Sunset Boulevard is the best.

That said, there are several books that I love (I’m going to mention Good Omens, His Dark Materials, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Stand, High Fidelity and The Straight Man) that just don’t measure up. I will read them again and again, but they won’t make the list. And the one book that everyone loves (To Kill a Mockingbird) just doesn’t measure up as literature. And there are no pre-20th century books. There are no short story collections, no non-fiction books, no works of philosophy. And there are no books originally written in a foreign language (that will be an upcoming list). There are no 21st century books (that will also be an upcoming list). What there are, are the 25 best English language novels of the 20th Century. (more…)