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Muh boiz

Us, this morning. Yes, it’s the first time I’ve been becatted by both at once. Yes, it’s adorable. Yes, sitting in one position for so long, I put my back out and had to take the good Ibuprofen. The one with codeine.

Yes, I can get that over the counter here. w00t!

So let’s just continue chewing over Deborah HH’s question from the previous thread: she is soliciting recommendations for good American novels. Let me think. It’s been a while since I read fiction.

When I was about 15 and living on a farm in the middle of nowhere in long Summer, I got hold of one of those 100 books you must read to be an Educated Person and tried to slog my way through it. I don’t remember how far I got before I gave up in despair, but I do remember the book that did for me: The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Feh.

I recommend Call of the Wild (dog -> wolf) or White Fang (wolf -> dog). I like Jack London.

Just about anything by Twain or Vonnegut. Well, maybe not late Vonnegut. Okay, Salinger. I guess. Nothing by Hemingway. Muh Southern representation, Flannery O’Connor.

The one I used to re-read every year but don’t necessarily recommend: The Snake Pit (the movie, as movies tend, doesn’t do it justice). The best book I absolutely don’t recommend because it’s pure nightmare fuel: Johnny Got His Gun. I hate murder mysteries, but reading Silence of the Lambs was the first time I ever stood up out of a chair in shock with a book in my hands (hated the movie).

I don’t know. I can’t dredge any more up. I’m rusty. I have a feeling I would’ve been able to write on this topic at great length thirty years ago. At some point, I unconsciously decided I don’t have time to read about things that didn’t happen.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 25, 2020, 8:30 pm

We probably should have asked the age of Deborah’s granddaughter.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 25, 2020, 8:38 pm

I can’t believe no one has yet suggested Ray Bradbury – to my mind one of the finest American novelists of all (I’d particularly recommend Something Wicked This Way Comes) .

I’d also recommend more or less anything by Richard Matheson. who tends to be overlooked or snottily dismissed as a ‘genre writer’ – a term of disapproval I’ve never understood.

Finally, an astonishing book I would recommend to anyone is Fate Is The Hunter by Ernest K. Gann. It’s not a novel but is regarded as one of the best books about the early days of US commercial aviation. Of course, it’s about a lot more than that and Gann was a wonderful writer who lived an extraordinary life at an extraordinary time.

Then again, probably none of these would be right for a granddaughter, who might well prefer Little Women – or is that too sexist a suggestion in these days of endless woke?

Comment from MrsMGunz
Time: August 25, 2020, 9:08 pm

Well if we’re going to go off into science fiction… the Starwolf trilogy, by Edmund Hamilton, and the only good thing he ever wrote. I spent good money on his other books, expecting to find the same magic. Starwolf makes for a good reread every year or so.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: August 25, 2020, 10:20 pm

The granddaughter is 17, and has read most of the standard (and quite worthy) suggestions. I appreciate all the thoughtful ideas, and would never have thought of some of them. Granddaughter is not an enthusiastic reader, though she does like science fiction, plays and poetry (go figure). She does her best school work in mathematics and the sciences, and likely will pursue a career in a hard science. I am glad to be reminded of Bradbury, Herbert, and Heinlein, and I think I will offer her some science fiction choices.

Again, my thanks to all of you and I’ll let you know how she does. But don’t stop offering ideas 🙂

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: August 25, 2020, 10:31 pm

Does it have to be American Deborah?
Because I always found Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a good read for future techies 🙂 even if it is English.
Trust me when you’ve got a tough confusing problem, the answer is almost always 42.
Right up there with the Monty Python’s Holy Grail for ‘insider’ humor.

Hard science but fiction?
Oh my…Ringworld, Protector, Mote in God’s Eye, Footfall, Lucifer’s Hammer, etc – books by the Niven/Pournelle team

@Uncle B – I thought of Bradbury and Grumpypants Clarke, but sometimes their stories were rather depressing, I think it was the times.
Good though, I agree.

No one suggested Steven King 😛 ?

“Repent Harlequin said the Ticktockman!”

Comment from ea
Time: August 25, 2020, 11:06 pm

For lighter reading, Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International is fun. It has a little romance and a lot of guns and monsters. Correia’s books are good for 12 and up-clean, some strong language, but lots of fun.

Also, his Hard Magic series is set in an alternate 1930’s with magic. This series has a more science fiction feel than the other series.

Comment from Gordon R. Durand
Time: August 25, 2020, 11:49 pm

True Grit by Charles Portis, The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington, and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

If you don’t like these I have others.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: August 25, 2020, 11:50 pm

@durnedyankee—This year she is supposed to be studying American literature, but I had assigned Ivanhoe to her before I learned she was supposed to be reading in Am.Lit. Her parents have given me latitude, but I don’t want to stray too far from the recommended course work.

Comment from Weaseltablet3
Time: August 25, 2020, 11:54 pm

Lord, there are some great books in this thread.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 26, 2020, 12:47 am

Oooooh – reading for an American Literature Class? A great American Novel?

How about one of the top 100 American Novels?

I almost hesitate to recommend it, as it may not appeal to everyone, but for someone interested in science fiction and math it might be just the ticket.

Gravity’s Rainbow

by Thomas Pynchon

is probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever read. However, it’s a wild ride and I couldn’t promise that someone told ‘read this’ would automatically get into it.


Comment from Gordon R. Durand
Time: August 26, 2020, 12:57 am

There are some great mathematical jokes in Gravity’s Rainbow, too, in fact the underlying premise is based on the Poisson distribution, but unfortunately some portions are XXX-raunchy, so I couldn’t recommend it to a teenager. Maybe V instead?

Comment from Mitch
Time: August 26, 2020, 1:30 am

Read sci-fi muchly in my younger days, though I was probably a bit fonder of fantasy. Roger Zelazny is one of my favorite authors who often straddled both genres in the same work; his “Creatures of Light and Darkness” and “Lord of Light” are excellent examples.

Hard sci-fi gem: “Mission of Gravity” by Hal Clement

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: August 26, 2020, 3:28 am

Since I can’t honestly pick one out as his best, I heartily recommend every single one of John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee novels.

John D. stands out from all the other detective / crime authors as a highly literate, thoughtful, ethical and moral man who was also superbly skilled as a writer of stories and creator of characters.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: August 26, 2020, 3:35 am

A current author who has impressed me on multiple levels is Neal Stephenson. Although probably best known for Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, in my opinion his magnum opera is his Baroque Cycle comprising the three historical novels Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World.

Comment from None necessary
Time: August 26, 2020, 4:23 am


Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

and Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Comment from peacelovewoodstock
Time: August 26, 2020, 11:11 am

Moby Dick. Engrossing.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: August 26, 2020, 12:37 pm

Heh – I’ll vote for Snow Crash! I forgot “the Deliverator” and Uncle Enzo’s (Cosa Nostra) Pizzas!

Also “Drawing of the Dark” or “Anubis Gates” by Tim Powers, also an entertaining author.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 26, 2020, 8:05 pm

Hm. Scifi.

Ender’s Game. Cuckoo’s Egg.

I have a sneaking fondness for Andre Norton. She writes the sort of book a friend of mine called “potato chips for the brain.”

Comment from CantHarkMyCry
Time: August 26, 2020, 10:46 pm

Second Uncle B’s mention of Matheson. A true craftsman, although probably not quite what am AmLit teacher is looking for. . .

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: August 27, 2020, 2:45 pm

“Potato chips for the brain.” That’s exactly the kind of books I like to read 🙂

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