100 (more or less) novels

Will Barnet, Woman Reading Will Barnet, Woman Reading

This is my alternate list to 100 Books you Should Read  (Gina Barreca) in Psychology Today.  I gave myself an hour to do this. 

I started by going through Barreca’s list and asking myself: If this book were assigned to me to teach or to lead a discussion in book group, would I want to do it? If the answer was no, I struck it. A lot of books disappeared.  I then looked at the books I struck, and tried to come up with an alternate by the same author. Example: Barreca had D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, which I changed to Lady Chatterley’s Lover because I’ve been a part of really interesting discussions about that novel.  

If I couldn’t come up with a novel by the same author, I just went with my instincts. Sometimes alternates that occurred to me made obvious sense (instead of Gone with the Wind, I chose Sacred Hunger); other times I didn’t see a connection, but went with my first impulse anyway.

What I was going for: well put together novels that I liked,  that would lend themselves to discussion on more than one level. And there are not a hundred here, I don’t think. I haven’t counted.

1984 George Orwell

A Room with a View E.M. Forster

A Soldier of the Great War Mark Helprin

A Thousand Acres Jane Smiley

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith

American Gods Neil Gaiman

Asylum Patrick McGrath

Bastard Out of Carolina Dorothy Allison

Beloved Ton Morrison

Blue Angel Francine Prose

Catch 22 Joseph Heller

City of Shadows Ariana Franklin

Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons

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Friday 9. September 2016|reviews & reviewing|0 Comments

Margaret Lawrence (Hearts and Bones) 1945-2011

Hearts and Bones Hearts and Bones, first in the series

I was thinking of sending somebody Margaret Lawrence’s three Hannah Trevor novels (and The Iceweaver, which isn’t technically part of the trilogy but is, kinda), which are out of print but (I hoped) might have been released in ebook format. So I went to see and found instead that the author died four years ago. 

This article about Margaret Lawrence (a pen name)  appeared in her hometown paper at the time of her death.

It makes me melancholy to think of all the interesting women novelists of my generation (so to speak) who are gone, women I would like to have had the chance to talk to. Ariana Franklin aka Diana Norman (I actually did have an email correspondence with her, but I would have loved to sit down with her over tea), Jetta Carleton, Margaret Lawrence are just a few of them.

And unfortunately the Hannah Trevor trilogy is not available for Kindle or any other ebook format. Seems like some savvy publisher would jump on that.  

Wednesday 7. September 2016|fiction, historical fiction, reviews & reviewing, thrillers / mysteries|0 Comments

My side, your side: Fan fiction and The Gilded Hour

An email from an unhappy — and proactive reader.

Ms Donati, You have created a wonderful but unfinished story with very lovely and interesting people. Since you have written that you like to leave unanswered questions at the end of your books I will not be able to read your future works of art. I read– almost uninterrupted —” The Guilded [sic] Hour” and could not believe you would give up on the story without having an ending.—I know you think there was one—but I beg to differ. I have read the blog about this story—-and your answers to the comments were not satisfactory. I am writing my own ending to your story with each story line having a happy or unhappy closure and will not need to read any sequels. Thank you for your lovely start —now to start on my own end of the story lines.

My reply:

Ms Williams —  I take it as a compliment that you feel so strongly about the story and the characters. You are, of course, welcome to do as you please, as long as you don’t attempt to publish what you create. I wish you best of luck with it.


Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas Annotated pages from David Foster Wallace’s copy of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas Annotated pages from David Foster Wallace’s copy of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I didn’t have to think very long about how to reply to this reader, and I meant what I said: she is free to write whatever she likes and […]

Tuesday 6. September 2016|*my work, reader mail, series in progress|5 Comments