Booking Through Thursday: 5 Favorites

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1. Do you have a favorite author?

Always a tough one.  Currently, Francine Prose. In the past, Frank Conroy, Tom Grimes, Larry McMurtry, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?

No. So much of it, as far as I know, is uncollected, especially her journalism. So far, I’ve read A Changed Man, Blue Angel, Reading Like a Writer, and Guided Tours of Hells. I’m looking forward to reading Bigfoot Dreams.

3. Did you LIKE everything?

Everything I’ve read, I’ve liked. I especially liked her essays on reading and literature. Her views on reading really mesh with mine. My two favorite books so far are Guided Tours of Hell and Reading Like a Writer.

4. How about a least favorite author?

William Gaddis.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?

William Gaddis. I actually liked A Frolic of His Own, but The Recognitions — I just can’t read it.


4 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: 5 Favorites

  1. Dorothy: You’re probably right, reading The Recognitions in a group may help. I got through Ulysses via a graduate seminar on Joyce. Plus with Ulysses there are excellent guides to the novel such as The New Bloomsday Book by Harry Blamires.

    I read Gaddis’ A Frolic of His Own, and loved it. But, I read it right out grad school when I was much more interested in experimental fiction. My interest in experimental fiction has waned over the years. A lot of that has to do with a waning interest in literary theory.

  2. My interest in literary theory has waned too, although my interest in criticism hasn’t, and if a particular theorist seems to be a good writer with genuinely interesting things to say, I’ll read it. But that doesn’t happen often! If I sat down to read Gaddis because of literary theory, I’d never get far. I recoil instinctively from anything to do with grad school …

  3. Finding good criticism is hard, but worthwhile reading when it’s found.

    I had never heard of Gaddis until I read John Aldridge’s Talents and Technicians. In that book Aldridge examines and assesses some of the overly-praised, and little-criticised, writers of the 80s and early 90s, including Jay McInerney, who I recently reread and enjoyed. Overall, Aldridge had little good to say about McInerney & Co., and compared them harshly against Gaddis, DeLillo, Vonnegut, Mailer, etc. Like a good student, I started reading Gaddis & Co to see what Aldridge was talking about.

    Until I got to Gaddis — Pynchon as well — I found myself swayed by Aldridge’s argument. Mailer, DeLillo and Vonnegut, especially, seemed to align strongly with my reading sensibilities, whereas Gaddis and Pynchon didn’t.

    Again, I think sometimes reader and book have to be in synch with each other before a good read works out.

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