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Five books you think everyone should read

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Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky are known for their russian translations. it's the one i read. apparently there have been two new ones since. haven't attempted any others. if you've read one of their translations before you'll probably agree they do a pretty fantastic job...so i'd say start there or check out the reviews on the new translations. generally speaking, the older translations are usually sub-par.

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Yea, translations are really rough. Especially some of the Russian novels and novellas. The new Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace is actually pretty good. Much much better than the Constance translation and a fair amount better most of the time than the other newish one. My russian friend always says he feels sorry for me about the stuff i can't read because of translation problems.

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The new Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace is actually pretty good.

This is a must read for everyone, very good translation and an excellent book. Definitely in my top 10.

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Damn...This conversation went from 0 to 60 in the space of a few pages. Guess Hali's found his niche outside of having a handsom angular jaw.

Nah...but for real though...you have some solid opinions and insight. You go to school for something lit related?

I was raised by writers (and wolves), so a lot of this shit has been in my blood whether I've read it or not. My dad in particular was voracious. There's not a thing I can mention he hasn't read and/or doesn't have a strong opinion about--that is unless it's "some crap written in the last 20 years", which usually applies to anything written in the last 20 years. Good stuff, my pops.

Some nice selections here. First some endorsements:

Maniac Mcgee -when i was a little kid I used to promise myself to re-read this every year, and I did for at leat 4 or 5.

Bodega Dreams -One of those highschool reads I thoroughly enjoyed

Catch 22 - Did my highschool literature proficiency in this. Read it four times, till I knew it in and out.

Now for 5, not because they are the best, or even my "favorites of all time", but because they deserve the reccomendation plain and simple:

The Road- Cormac McCarthy-I'm new to McCarthy, but it is already clear that he is one of America's finest living writers. I won't get into why (see Halifamous' post for more on that) cause it will take me all day, but suffice to say, this book is both sparing, complex, and quite accesible. Whether it is the best of his work, i can't say, but I'm in the middle of All the Pretty Horses, and about to get into The Orchard Keeper (his 1st), so I'll report back.

Island- Alistair McCleod- So if McCarthy is one of America's finest talents still breathing, I would argue McCleod is Canadas. Born on the Island of Cape Breton of Scottish Highland ancestory, he has managed in "Island" to put together a body of short stories grounded there of incredible emotional depth, that often tread right to the left of sentimentality, but have an unmistakable poigniancy borne of his sincere interest in dying ways of life, alienation, simple family relationships, and what "home" means. Solid stuff

The Bird Artist-Howard Norman- Another bleak and foggy Canadian. His later work has not been as strong if you ask me.

Ambiguous Adventure- Cheikh Hamidou Kane- This Francophone African novel needs a few more western (and eastern) readers. Check it out.

Nip the Buds Shoot the Kids- Kenzaburo Oe- Simply because I already hate this Murakami character never having read him after reading this thread (I know, cry "unfair" all you want) and I thought I might reccomend another Japanese notable who has not been mentioned.

Yup.

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I read most of Cormac McCarthy's work but I have to agree with Hali on Blood Meridian. It's so condensed and structured in a bizarre way that makes it so phenomenal. The story is great, characters are complex and the writing is really something different. It is a little hard to read, I do most of my reading on buses and trains but after starting this I had to sacrifice three nights to finish it at home.

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I read most of Cormac McCarthy's work but I have to agree with Hali on Blood Meridian. It's so condensed and structured in a bizarre way that makes it so phenomenal. The story is great, characters are complex and the writing is really something different. It is a little hard to read, I do most of my reading on buses and trains but after starting this I had to sacrifice three nights to finish it at home.

I read the road in about 4 hours from 11-3 AM. I couldn't put the thing down. I'm busy as all get out now, and I find it frustrating to try and read him in fragments. You read Outer Dark? That's my girl's favorite, and I think it's the next of his I'll read if I ever have a chance.

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I read the road in about 4 hours from 11-3 AM. I couldn't put the thing down. I'm busy as all get out now, and I find it frustrating to try and read him in fragments. You read Outer Dark? That's my girl's favorite, and I think it's the next of his I'll read if I ever have a chance.

I read The Border Trilogy before Blood Meridian and both Outer Dark and Child of God afterwards. I can see why your girl likes Outer Dark, I would say it's the most feminine one of his books. As much as I liked The Road and No Country... and they are great stories I think the style of Blood Meridian is much better. I still have his first one The Orchard Keeper somewhere but didn't read it yet.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky is one of the recent ones that I liked. I read a lot of nonfiction lately and can't think of any other recommendations.

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Nah...but for real though...you have some solid opinions and insight. You go to school for something lit related?

Literature like... molecular biology.

Island- Alistair McCleod- So if McCarthy is one of America's finest talents still breathing, I would argue McCleod is Canadas. Born on the Island of Cape Breton of Scottish Highland ancestory, he has managed in "Island" to put together a body of short stories grounded there of incredible emotional depth, that often tread right to the left of sentimentality, but have an unmistakable poigniancy borne of his sincere interest in dying ways of life, alienation, simple family relationships, and what "home" means. Solid stuff

I'm from Nova Scotia and I love you right now.

Catch 22 - Did my highschool literature proficiency in this. Read it four times, till I knew it in and out.

I never really "got" Catch-22 as a novel (I mean, besides the fact that it is funny and well-written) until I read "Something Happened".

Those books really should be assigned together.

Edit: Also, I bought and read the original English Translation of Hamsun's "Hunger" yesterday.

Boy I'm glad I started with the newest translation, this one was like pulling teeth.

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I only have a top 2 books.

The Catcher in the Rye & Blue Blood.

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i am not very well-read in fiction so am not going to attempt a list of five, but if it included any amis it would be london fields b/c it seems less contrived than his other stuff for some reason (depite being on the surface, one of the most contrived and laughable).

although now that i think about it, my fondness may derive from its resembling a really well-written piers anthony novel (um, one of the "smart" ones).

Martin Amos - Time's Arrow

Yes, Martin Amos is a jackass. Yes this book relies on a gimmick that is so "oh little me" clever that it kind of drives you mad (then again, so is "the idiot" based). Still, I challenge anyone not to laugh at Amos's meta-fiction humour that occurs in several levels of depth, or not to be touched when the aware reader properly reflects on the implications and the naivette of the narrator ("We condensed them, people, out of the air, clothed their shivering bodies and filled their broken mouths with gold"). It is tough for an author who inserts such a presence in his story to keep a light touch with the things that matter most. It succeeds here.

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