The OF Blog: Entertainment Weekly's "The New Classics"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Entertainment Weekly's "The New Classics"

Link here, followed by some commentary and derision for some of these choices. Since the last time I did this, it somehow became a meme rather than me just pissing on some of the choices, keep in mind that I'm pissing on some of these choices (and feel free to copy/paste to your heart's content):

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)

Quite a good book. Just not convinced it is McCarthy's best...or the best of the past 25 years.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)

OK book, probably the best in an OKish series, but...buh?

3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)

Bought this Wednesday. Shall read in the near future.

4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)

No interest.

5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)

I'll get around to reading Roth...someday. Just not today or tomorrow or this decade, most likely.

6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)


7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)

Damn good story. If I could get by with it, I'd use it in a classroom setting. There's an irony there, ya know...

8. Selected Stories
, Alice Munro (1996)

Will read at some point.

9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)

Have it. Read part of it. Meant to return to it, as it's fairly good.

10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)

Will read in the near future, as I have enjoyed what little Murakami I've read to date.

11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)

Haven't read.

12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)

I would have rated this higher than virtually everything on this list. To use netspeak, I <3 Saramago. Yes, you may now vomit at that weird juxtapositioning. Should have joined all of this with commas into one sentence.

13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)

Will read in the near future, I hope. Couldn't find it in a local bookstore today when I remembered I wanted to buy/read it.

14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)

Will read at some point.

15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)

Comes close to fulfilling that bombastic title. Enjoyed it quite a bit. Not Eggers' best though. What is the What would have gotten my vote instead.

16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)

Very good dystopic tale. Deserves a place on such a list.

17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)

Very deserving of a place on this list. Too bad the English translation fails to capture the beauty of the Spanish original.

18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)

Will read in the near future.

19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)

Haven't read.

20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)

No. Just say no.

21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)

Why this?

22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)

Deserving of a much better ranking, considering the books ahead of it.

23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)

Yes! Barker's Regeneration Trilogy is well-deserving of all accolades that it receives.

24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)

Haven't read, but have thought about it for years now. Based on the snippets of the miniseries, it probably deserves a higher ranking.

25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)

26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)

Dated work, but still interesting enough to bear reading...sometime.

27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)

Will read this once I remember to order it when I have money again.

28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)

Funny, but I thought Me Talk Pretty was better.

29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)

Haven't read. Not interested.

30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)

See above.

31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)

Haven't read.

32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)


33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)

More like the year of I didn't give a damn?

34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)

Will read sometime, years from now.

35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)

I'd rather read Eco's book on beauty.

36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)

Have they been buried yet?

37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)

Sounds like a Persian name for a Persian story that I know nothing about.

38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)

Birds of a feather flock together, away from me?

39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)

Not a bad book at all, but not the type I'd consider to be one of the best of any year.

40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)

Will read...sometime.

41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)

I actually enjoyed this, making me one of the few males, apparently.

42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)


43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)

Maybe a borrow from the library at best.

44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)

I'm just praying for books that interest me here.

45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)

One of Allende's books I've yet to read.

46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)

Very good, but considering the competition listed here, probably would have been higher if I had to rerank all of these.

47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)

Maybe later?

48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)


49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)

Not interested.

50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm beginning to wonder if this list is for the frumpy set.

51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)

My suspicions are growing...

52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)

*exhales, as a sigh*

53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)

I really need to buy this, since I've enjoyed other Chabon stories in the past.

54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)


55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)

I wonder if people who live in them throw stones...

56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)


57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)

I'd rather read Thomas Wolfe.

58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)

I'd rather drop this from the list.

59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)

Kirk? Spock? Bones!

60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)

To death?

61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)

Not wasting mine here, although he's written some decent stuff in the past.

62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)

Why not to Clarksville? It's much closer for me.

63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)

Haven't read.

64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)

Would have selected White Noise, but I've heard good things about this one.

65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)

Enjoyed this one. A bit slight in places, though.

66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)

Writing responses to lists like this?

67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)

I'm thinking of Charlie Brown for some reason...

68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)


69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)

Might read, but I hear the sequel is weak.

70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)

Need to read sometime.

71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)

Ring around the Rosey?

72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)

Very good book.

73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)

I'm just praying this list will end soon.

74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)

I love HS football...

75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)

Maybe later.

76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)

#100 is coming up?

77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

Very good book. Deserving of this list.

78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)


79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)

It's 2:35 AM at this point.

80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)

Soon. Once Michael J. Fox's image is out of my brain.

81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)

Maybe sometime later?

82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)

Need to sample his work sometime.

83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)

No interest.

84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)

Not bad at all. Not all that high level of writing, so it ought to fit in well with EW's demographics...

85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)

Is a balm involved?

86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)

Did they suck?

87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)

Haven't read.

88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)

Wasn't that made into a stoner flick?

89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)

Sounds like a book for the NRA set.

90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)

I hate apples, so no.

91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)

Haven't read.

92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)

See above.

93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)

Good book. Don't think it'd make my top 100 for the past 25, though.

94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)

Need to read sometime, even if it'll likely make me vomit.

95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)

No interest.

96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)

I'd rather cut off my left nad than to read that.

97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)

See above.

98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)

I'm having this AVP flashback. Make it stop!

99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)

As opposed to Whimsical Magic?

100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

Started re-reading this last week. Good stuff.

And sadly, this list appeals to me as much as soggy french fries and boiled peanuts for dessert.


Anonymous said...

The Things They Carried is a true modern classic. Case Histories, whilst enjoyable, is not. Underworld is even better than White Noise. Money, Atonement and Cloud Atlas are all worth reading. I am just about to start reading The Line of Beauty.

Not a big fan of crime?

Anonymous said...

"Atonement" is a wonderful book! And I really enjoyed "On Beauty" - it's very much a book about relations between race and class, and the plot has references to "Howard's End". Art also plays a significant role - the main character is an art historian (I know professionals like him), and it is certainly no coincidence that his project is about deconstructing (and in a sense destroying) Rembrandt. I would recommend both very much.

Anonymous said...

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
Sounds like a Persian name for a Persian story that I know nothing about.

Shame on you! A (French) autobiographic comic book about a little girl growing up in Iran and then abroad. Made of awesome. Recently adapted in an animated movie which is, also, made of awesome :

Why can't you get away with using Maus in class?

Anonymous said...

Could you be any more patronizing and dismissive towards women author who write primarily about and for women if you tried? Not chick lit (Bridget Jones) but Joy Luck Club? Bel Canto? The Year of Magical Thinking? Birds of America? And how have you managed to avoid even hearing about Persopolis and FUn Home?

I suggest you go back to your ever so charming list and look at the ways you said "no" to books by women and by men, because you come across here as a someone who thinks himself far better that that tatty little books for women -- in other words, a sexist stuck-up snob.

Elena said...

I would just like to say, as someone who unabashadly loved the Harry Potter series, that I am upset "His Dark Materials" was treated as one entry while the HP book was one of the series and treated like a standalone. I suppose I will have to content myself with it's higher ranking...though not even I would put the series or any of the books within it at #2.

Fish Monkey said...

Who pray is 'the frumpy set'?

RobB said...

I for one won't turn this into a meme. At least with the SFX list, I knew the players on the list. But yeah, soggy french fries and all that for this list on my part, too.

Larry Nolen said..., not really a big fan of crime. Will read more DeLillo. And I couldn't use Maus in class because of the language and the graphic scene of the hanging - which is why I noted the irony of it, teaching about the brutality of one towards another (the Holocaust) without really being able to show it.


Many of those comments are tongue-in-cheek. I haven't heard about them because I've been busy exploring other circles. As for the "sexist stuck-up snob" label...interesting, considering my background and reading habits. But I guess when one decides to make fun of titles knowing full well it's nothing but making fun of one's own gaps in I now have the right to call you a man-hater just because of a stray comment or two? I would think not, just as if you had known me outside of sarcastic comments here, calling me "sexist" would be almost the opposite of whom I am. But labels are easy to fling about, eh?


The "frumpy set" was my purposely over-the-top way of saying the list would appeal more to those on the north side of 40 than to someone younger, such as myself.


Might be for the best not to, I agree. Making fun of my own lack of reading here (I read what, 18-19 books only?) seems to have led one at least to accuse me of all sorts of things ;)

Anonymous said...

86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)

Did they suck?

Once again, shame on you? :P Don't tell me you've never even heard of this book?

Most of the list is meh, I agree.

Larry Nolen said...

I vaguely recall something about it, but at the time, I just wanted to make silly puns off of the titles. Might look into it and a few others later.

Anonymous said...

which is why I noted the irony of it, teaching about the brutality of one towards another (the Holocaust) without really being able to show it.
That's really sad. Although it surprises me. I thought your students were older. I guess I'll just have to blame Americans standarts of... whatever that is.
We read a couple of books about the Shoah when I was in highschool which add some harsh content... I wonder if it's a difference of culture of the fact it's not graphic material.

Larry Nolen said...

I've pushed the boundaries before - I've shown them images of the beat downs in the streets, the shaving of the beards, and the "trophy shot" of a terrified man who has a gun stuck to his head, photo taken just before his brains are blown out. I've shown the starvation photos from Dachau and Buchenwald and the "march" of the spring of 1945. But I have to get approval for things that have any "sexual content" implied or if curse words are used - it is quite asinine, to say the least.

I still can recall watching the documentary footage of Night and Fog and seeing all sorts of archival photos of what happened. It is a haunting thing that I suppose might be too graphic for 13 year-olds (although perhaps I can get approval for the older students).

Monster Paperbag said...

It's nice to see Alice Munro in the top ten :).

Anonymous said...

Ha, I saw Maus on that list :) I had a teacher in college that used that in my English class...I think you could do it. It worked for me, and just about everyone else in the class.

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