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"Great" is a lot to live up to. If you don't want to make a definitive pronouncement, then Who is Your Favorite Woman Novelist since 1950?

I have one favor to ask you. Please leave a comment: put the name of the Greatest (or your Favorite) Female Novelist as the subject; in the body of the comment, write a sentence or a paragraph explaining why you picked them You could name the qualities of their writing that you enjoy/admire; any books of theirs that shine for you; anything they captured best, or first, in Novel form; a character or part of a book that enchanted you; how many books of theirs you've read, or re-read . . .

We're gathering names and ideas here, and sharing them. It's a hard question, with a lot of strong competition. What I hope to find is not one clear winner, but dozens of strong alternatives. Of course, if you don't have a strong opinion, or a favorite, contemporary woman writer, then you should comment on your actual favorite, no matter when she wrote. I'm asking especially about more recent writers because I have a pretty good idea already who the strongest women novelists were from long ago. But the field in the last 60 years, and especially among women writing novels today, is much larger and much harder to judge the best among.

It's far easier, looking backward in time. Many women have great writing ability. But the world has run on chauvinist principles for millennia, and only a minute fraction of the women who could write good novels have managed to do so, and then get them published. At the end of the diary you'll find a poll for the Greatest Woman Novelist before 1950. I could whittle down the entire field to 15 contenders, partly because so few women from previous centuries had books published and saved for posterity, and partly because a few generations does lend a much clearer view, to see who out of the contenders achieve the first rank. Even so, it's arrogant of me to attempt a definitive pronouncement, and you're welcome to tell me that I'm completely mistaken in my list.

The world is still pretty chauvinist. We live in a country where the sexes are relatively equal, and there's unfairness all around us, built into our culture in dozens of ways and, sadly, internalized in most young girls as they grow. But our culture, and the world of publishing, have come a long way.

In 113 years of The Nobel Prize for Literature, 110 were awarded (7 years had non - mostly because of wars; 4 years had 2). Only 13 women have won; 4 of those were in the last 10 years. When the Nobel prizes began, they were stodgier than society in general - they were almost exclusively given to Europeans, they were biased towards Scandinavia, and they were chauvinist. Of the first 24 Nobels in Literature, 6 were given to Danes, Swedes and Norwegians - but only 1 to a woman (from Sweden).

Women who have Won the Nobel Prize since 1950:

'66: Nelly Sachs
'91: Nadine Gordimer
'93: Toni Morrison
'04: Elfriede Jelinek
'07: Doris Lessing
'09: Herta Müller
'13: Alice Munro

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (given for "The Novel" until 1947) has been given 86 times, over 97 years (there were 13 years when nobody won). Of those 86 prizes, 29 went to women. But the Pulitzers show that women had already made huge strides in the hundred years before they were first given (in 1917). Of the last 21 Pulitzers, women won 8 - but of the first 21 Pulitzers, women won 11. Why they only won 10 of the 44 Pulitzers in-between is beyond me. And 7 of the last 20 Booker Prizes have been won by women (2 by Hilary Mantel).

Women who have Won the Booker Prize (started in 1969):

'70: Bernice Rubens
'74: Nadine Gordimer
'75: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
'78: Iris Murdoch
'79: Penelope Fitzgerald
'84: Anita Brookner
'85: Keri Hulme
'87: Penelope Lively
'90: A. S. Byatt
'95: Pat Barker
'97: Arundhati Roy
'00: Margaret Atwood
'06: Kiran Desai
'07: Anne Enright
'09 & '12: Hilary Mantel
'13: Eleanor Catton

Women who have Won the Pulitzer Prize since 1950:

'61: Harper Lee
'65: Shirley Ann Grau
'66: Katherine Anne Porter
'70: Jean Stafford
'73: Eudora Welty
'83: Alice Walker
'85: Alison Lurie
'88: Toni Morrison
'89: Anne Tyler
'92: Jane Smiley
'94: Annie Proulx
'95: Carol Shields
'00: Jhumpa Lahiri
'05: Marilynne Robinson
'06: Geraldine Brooks
'09: Elizabeth Strout
'11: Jennifer Egan
'14: Donna Tartt

I think, a century from now, women will be winning half the big prizes, if not more. I have no evidence to say that women are better at writing novels than men are, but they may be more interested. Do women read books more than men? They take more writing and English classes and majors than men do in college. Perhaps a century from now women will be better supported and encouraged by our culture to study science and engineering, so less women will be studying English. Do you think that women are more interested in writing novels than men are, or are naturally better at it?

In olden days a woman wasn't really supposed to read or write, because her purpose on earth was to have children, and look after them and the cooking and cleaning. But some women were of a class where they got away with writing; some - like the Brontës and Mary Shelley - were born into enlightened families; and some just had the grit to overcome all the obstacles society put in their way. And kudos to every last one of them.

Some of the greatest are in the poll below. If you're upset that I left out Kate Chopin, Agatha Christie, Madame de Lafayette, Gertrude Stein, Rebecca West, or any other contenders, please mention them in a comment below. Comments are free. Leave as many as you like. Every woman writer deserves her props, and we want to hear them.

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

Poll

Who was the Greatest Woman Novelist before 1950?

1%1 votes
45%45 votes
3%3 votes
2%2 votes
9%9 votes
11%11 votes
1%1 votes
7%7 votes
0%0 votes
4%4 votes
4%4 votes
2%2 votes
1%1 votes
2%2 votes
8%8 votes

| 100 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar & (31+ / 0-)



    DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
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    SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City Bookworm Chitown Kev
    Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:05:30 PM PDT

    •  Marilynne Robinson (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Monsieur Georges

      My high school math teacher taught us to go into the "log world" to understand logarithms; I find Marilynne Robinson's novels, especially the newer ones, Gilead and Home, to be written versions of the "log world," something that draws you in and makes you into someone different, and you emerge blinking at the strangeness of the world around you.

      It always reminds me of that line in Prufrock: "Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

      Anyway, apparently what I want in literature is immersion in a different world, and I've found it.

      Plus her first novel, Housekeeping, was set in Sandpoint, where she grew up and where I now live. A magical place.  

      •  I liked gilead... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        It's the only one I read...  A little slow, but an interesting character study.

        My favorite woman author is probably Octavia butler.

        I also like Donna tart a lot.  I've liked some lessing too.

        I'm surprised Alice walker didn't make the list above although the only book I read, color purple, I thought to be over rated.  I should really read handmaids tale again as it has been forever.  Not a big fan of Tyler or proulx.  I liked the Byatt book I read and the collection of short stories by lahiri.

        I suppose you're right about the awards in the future going to more women, but I still feel a personal bias towards male authors...  I don't know why and I know there has been a lot of ink spilled on the subject alon with a healthy dose of chauvinism.

        Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

        by No Exit on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:35:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't know Octavia Butler, though I've noticed she (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          wins Hugos and Nebulas. Don't know Donna Tartt either.

          I've enjoyed a couple of Byatts and a couple of Lahiris.

          I suppose you're right about the awards in the future going to more women, but I still feel a personal bias towards male authors...  I don't know why and I know there has been a lot of ink spilled on the subject alon with a healthy dose of chauvinism.
          Thanks for your frankness. Perhaps it's just that you've had a lot more favorite male authors - easy enough to do, as more of the great writers have been male, for reasons I addressed in the diary.

          I think there are differences between male and female authors, especially if you go back before 1900. The commonest difference cited is that many men can't write credible women. I see much more than that: Different areas of interest, different perspectives. But it's impossible to tease apart which differences are innate, and which are social constructs.

          I would say that the finest novelists can write convincingly from many viewpoints, and make a point of doing so.

          I normally ignore any comments depending from my tip jar. It just seems poor form to jump the queue, when others arrived earlier and commented so far downstream. I'd have replied to you elsewhere, but this was your only comment. I know you meant nothing by it. So, I get persnickety.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 10:06:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Nevada Barr (15+ / 0-)

    Okay, so I spend a lot of time hanging out in National Parks, so that means I also like reading about them.

    •  First name that jumped into my head, too (14+ / 0-)

      Though you can make a case for Barbara Kingsolver, too.

      Or Toni Morrison.

      When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

      by litho on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:49:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  !! I can't believe I overlooked (10+ / 0-)

        Morrison- for Song of Solomon alone.

        •  Song of Solomon (7+ / 0-)

          is surely one of the best books ever written.
          I love it.
          Toni Morrison has missed the mark a couple times, imho.
          Most notably with a mercy.
          I couldn't get past the first chapter of that book.
          I may revisit it sometime in the future.

          Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

          by JoanMar on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:35:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It seems like she has huge skills, and ambition, (6+ / 0-)

            so she misses sometimes when she aims for entirely new territory. Do you have other favorite Morrison books? (I need to read more)

            Or other favorite women authors?

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 08:27:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Beloved. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brecht, Portlaw, janis b, RiveroftheWest

              4 am on an iPhone is quite the challenge. Will elaborate in the morn.

              Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

              by JoanMar on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 01:05:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you, JoanMar. I hope you're sleeping well, (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Youffraita, Portlaw, JoanMar

                or will be soon. So maybe Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Jazz?

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 01:19:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  My two favorites from Ms Morrison (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RiveroftheWest, Brecht

                  are Song of Solomon and Beloved. Song of Solomon is the superior, I think, because of its lyrical prose, mastery of the language and original plot lines. You get to know the characters and you wonder about them after you are through reading. At the end of the book you are like, "Damn! This woman can write! Wow! What an experience I just had."
                  A quote from the book that had me laughing out loud:

                  There must be a potato recipe which calls for lumps in it. Mashed ain't it
                  .

                  Beloved engages you on another level. There are parts of that book that I have to put it down a while and "walk it off." Parts where I just break down bawling.
                  It captures in graphic detail the torturous hell enslaved people had to endure from birth till death.
                  It shows what happens to the human spirit when there are no options and death becomes preferable to life.

                  I don't usually read ghost stories and I would rather there wasn't one in Beloved. But how else was Ms Morrison to show the devastating consequences of having to take your own child's life so as to save it?

                  On a somewhat unrelated note - what does it say, I wonder, when one wakes up at 4 o'clock in the morning and reaches for one's phone to check response to one's comment on DailyKos? I had a good laugh at myself this morning. Really? You did what?

                  Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

                  by JoanMar on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 12:02:13 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Your last paragraph is very sweet and funny. Thank (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JoanMar, RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                    you, JoanMar. I hope you're having a good weekend.

                    Beloved is the only one I've tried, and I completely agree: 'Beloved engages you on another level. There are parts of that book that I have to put it down a while and "walk it off." Parts where I just break down bawling.' It is a very powerful book.

                    I'll try Song of Solomon next and, from what you say, it'll hurry me along to try more of her books.

                    Do you know the Paris Review Interviews with different writers? It's like an 'Inside the Actors Studio' for writers, digging deep into the methods and inspiration they apply to their craft. I enjoyed Toni Morrison's interview very much, and think you would too.

                    There's also an interview with a legendary editor, Robert Gottlieb. He discusses all the writers he edited. Here are a couple of items on Toni Morrison:

                    MORRISON

                    Writing my first two books, The Bluest Eye and Sula, I had the anxiety of a new writer who needs to make sure every sentence is exactly the right one. Sometimes that produces a kind of precious, jeweled quality—a tightness, which I particularly wanted in Sula. Then after I finished Sula and was working on the third book, Song of Solomon, Bob said to me, You can loosen, open up. Your writing doesn’t have to be so contained; it can be wider. I’m not sure these were his exact words, but I know that the consequence of the remarks was that I did relax and begin to open up to possibilities. It was because I was able to open up to those possibilities that I began to think things like, What would happen if indeed I followed this strange notion or image or picture I had in my mind of this woman who had no navel . . . whereas normally I would have dismissed such an idea as recklessness. It was as if he had said, Be reckless in your imagination.

                    GOTTLIEB

                    I remember the discussion with Toni as she was beginning Song of Solomon, because although we always did some marginal cosmetic work on her manuscripts, obviously a writer of her powers and discrimination doesn’t need a lot of help with her prose. I think I served Toni best by encouraging her—helping to free her to be herself. . . .

                    MORRISON

                    Bob once used an adjective about one of my books—Beloved—that I’d never, ever, ever heard him use before, about my book or anybody else’s. He said great. It’s funny, because everybody says great about anything. What’s the weather like? It’s great. How do you feel? Great. But I know that when Bob said it, in that context, he meant that. He didn’t mean something else. He might say wonderful, when something was wonderfully done, but he never said great.

                    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                    by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 02:25:22 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I am having a relaxing (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Brecht, RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                      weekend, Brecht, and hope you are having one, too.
                      Bummed that there is none of my favorite sports on - tennis, basketball, track and field - and not even a good movie.
                      I did see breaking news for the Kardashian baby. * Eyeroll *

                      No, I didn't know of the Paris Review Interviews. I'll check out that clip as soon as I'm done typing this.
                      Isn't that a great point about our overuse of the word great?

                      Thanks again, Brecht!

                      Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

                      by JoanMar on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 03:16:56 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I don't have a TV, as I'd watch it too much (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JoanMar, RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                        if I could. I make do with hulu, which allows me to keep up with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and sample some tv shows and movies (when I need a fix). But I'd rather get more reading and writing done. I don't really watch much tv sports - but I do find basketball and tennis the most interesting to watch.

                        Kardashians make me sad. But it's best not even to talk about them.

                        Great is a tempting word - the one I overuse the most.

                        Yes, a pretty relaxing weekend.

                        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                        by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 05:52:28 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Beloved (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RiveroftheWest, Brecht, JoanMar

                is my favorite of Morrison's.

                'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

                by janis b on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:44:09 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  If I had to pick one Greatest since 1950 - well, I (9+ / 0-)

        don't really think I could. There are so many fine ones that only I've read 2 or 1 or 0 books by. But with a gun to my head, I'd say Morrison. Atwood's up there too.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:10:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I just changed my vote, forgot about (7+ / 0-)

        Toni Morrison.

        SOS - Save Our Sigs!

        by blueoregon on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:12:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Before Elizabeth von Arnin (9+ / 0-)

    After Janet Frame and Margaret Atwood

  •  Ursula Le Guin (22+ / 0-)

    for transcending science-fiction into alternate reality literature.

    By taking subtle poetic license with the cumbersome limits of reality and deftly pushing a keen thought-experiment or two a little bit further then you would have she is consistently able to prismatically bend the the readers preconceptions and ideas about the "world as it could be" and shine them right back onto the "world as it is" and vice versa.

    Left-hand of Darkness
    Lathe of Heaven
    The Dispossessed
    ..and the wonderfulness from Earthsea.

    A few honorable mentions:

    The woman I almost decided to use for my post:  Iris Murdoch
    The woman whose inclusion on this list goes without saying:  Sylvia Plath
    The woman that I am currently fanboying on but wasn't ready to list as part of the modern canon:  Hilary Mantel

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:33:35 PM PDT

    •  I haven't read Le Guin (5+ / 0-)

      but I have heard similar praise in the past from folks whose opinion I trust. I have read that Lathe of Heaven is considered by many to be her best or most illustrative. Would you agree?

      •  Hmm.. thats a tough one (6+ / 0-)

        Lathe is a straight-forward thought-experiment about our relation to reality.  It is a compelling read and will have you thinking and re-thinking for days if you are into metaphysics and skepticism and the like

        Left-hand is a more subtle narrative about the intricacies of society from politics to religion to class all told through an interpretation of gender unlike any other story.  There are a lot of layers to this one.

        Hard to pick one.....

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:15:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Always Going Home (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, Brecht

          I thought it was her best, and I have it on my bookshelf. Interestingly, Amazon doesn't seem to have it....  

          •  Ah, found it. But you have to look under the exact (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            title: Always Coming Home.

            In reply to your comment above, hanging off my tip jar (small pet peeve of mine), Sandpoint seems like a lovely place. It's not for me - I had enough of the Chicago winter, and moved to LA.

            Agree with you, though, that "what I want in literature is immersion in a different world."

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:03:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sorry about (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, Brecht

              hanging off your tip jar - I'm fairly new at this, and tried to figure out how others had done it. Obviously I figured wrong, as I saw when my comment hung off your tip jar.

              I appreciate your intelligent topics.

              Yes, winters in Sandpoint all seem to last about 8 months these days, and then we have an influx of tourists oohing and aahing about the beauty, and we think, "Where were you when we were shoveling snow every day?"

              Actually the most blessed day is Labor Day, when they haul their boats out of the water and go home.

              Sound ungrateful, don't I? Sorry..., well, not very.  

              •  "I'm fairly new at this": I checked, and you've (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RiveroftheWest

                been here three years, and only made 23 comments. Firstly, kudos for your laconicism; secondly, I'm chuffed that you think my diaries are worth commenting in.

                I've replied to tip jars myself, everyone has. It only peeved me when I noticed some people who reply to one of the first comments every time, as if their comments deserved more mojo and readers than everyone else's.

                "Actually the most blessed day is Labor Day, when they haul their boats out of the water and go home." I hear you. Tourists can be annoying. We get a lot of them here in LA - but the place is practically designed for them. And they come from all over the world, so we get some interesting people-watching out of it.

                Thanks for your compliments and politeness, dandy lion. Your appreciation of Marilynne Robinson was quite lyrical. I think you should comment more often - but I can infer from my own sig line that everyone has the right to be as quiet as they like, too.

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 12:35:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  The Lathe of Heaven is one of her most accessible (7+ / 0-)

        Some of her works that are even better are a bit "experimental" and take patience to get into.

        The Left Hand of Darkness, for instance, alternates first-person viewpoint chapters with essays, anecdotes, history, folklore, etc. to build as complete a picture as she can manage of a world that is as close to being gender-free as humanoids can possibly come. (And even so she felt she hadn't quite made her point strongly enough.)

        The Dispossessed is arguably her most important book politically, but it begins in the middle of the story and then alternates between past and present until the story finally catches up with itself in the last chapter.

        The Lathe of Heaven presents none of these difficulties, at least once you get past a first chapter that is totally ambiguous and never completely explained (which was the dream, which was the reality?).

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:19:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Love Le Guin (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, Brecht

        Earthsea, Left Hand of Darkness, Always Coming Home ...  Le Guin is certainly one of the greats.  Also, her story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" is one of the best short pieces of English prose ever, and is especially poignant given the recent revelations of "enhanced interrogation" and the metastasized security state. What is especially powerful about that short story is that Le Guin's narrator is only able to render the utopian in negative terms, as a refusal of something that seems so close to it but is in fact its opposite.

    •  The Earthsea Trilogy (I think it's 5 now) was one (9+ / 0-)

      of the most enchanting reading experiences of my early teen years. I got so sucked into that world. And I've since found all the other ones you mention of hers.

      I like what you say of her, all true. Her mix of SF, poetry, humanity strangely unbalanced and shown with sharp and subtle insight, and a well-told tale, really adds up to a memorable book. Doris Lessing does something in the same ballpark, but LeGuin has a knack for hitting it over the fence.

      Your honorable mentions . . . well, I have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks for a fine and in-depth comment, Wisper.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:17:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes! LeGuin is awesome! (5+ / 0-)

      Her novel Lavinia, based on the Aeneid, isn't Sci Fi, but it's still great.  She just keeps getting better, too.  Four Ways to Forgiveness, The Other Wind and The Telling are some of my favorites.  I love the way she keeps exploring the subjects of women, sexuality and empowerment in her story arcs.    

      Metaphors be with you.

      by koosah on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:44:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh gosh. (11+ / 0-)

    I was going to vote for Margaret Atwood but now I'm reminded of Ursula K. LeGuin.  I'm conflicted!

  •  Marilynne Robinson, hands down. (10+ / 0-)

    She may be the only writer of our time worth reading in a hundred years.

    Novels: Housekeeping (1980), Gilead (2004), Home (2008)

    Essays: Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self (2010)

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:35:53 PM PDT

  •  Where is Gertrude Stein in the poll? (6+ / 0-)

    Hands down my favorite, pre 1950. Woolf, a close second.

    Post 1950 is tougher, as I'm not that up I must admit.

    Zadie Smith, perhaps.

  •  Ayn Rand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brecht, dov12348

    Wrote Atlas Shrugged in 1957. I don't share her views, but she could write a compelling novel.

    •  youre kidding (8+ / 0-)

      I actually read her philosophy and some of her arguments are well made if extreme, but the fiction??!!?

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:44:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree that some of her arguments are well made. (4+ / 0-)

        I don't agree with a society without a safety net, however.

        I think she was a better writer than a political thinker.  I found Atlas Shrugged a great read.  Once I started it, I couldn't put it down.  Years later I picked it up and the same thing happened.  I think she was an outstanding writer (of course that is largely a matter of taste).  Too bad she had such a brutal philosophy.

        •  A fair & balanced opinion. Pun only a little bit (3+ / 0-)

          intended. Well, completely intended, but only mildly applicable.

          You are absolutely entitled to your own literary taste. If you're not trying to live by her precepts (as, frankly, she never did), I'm not too worried about it.

          "I think she was a better writer than a political thinker." I agree. I suspect she only had one good book in her, and that's The Fountainhead; Atlas Shrugged, for me, was far too long and heavy-handed. The plot collapses under the weight of the philosophy/propaganda. But she could write a compelling character, and some energetic action and drama.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:05:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Pffftttt - her best book was "We The Living" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brecht, RiveroftheWest

            because she was writing about events she had experienced and survived. And even so it's way too polemical.

            If it's
            Not your body,
            Then it's
            Not your choice
            And it's
            None of your damn business!

            by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:25:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm certainly not in a hurry to read more Rand, (2+ / 0-)

              but I might try that one. I'd sort of rather all her books vanish into thin air, on account of their pernicious influence on young, impressionable conservatives and libertarians. But they won't. At this point I'm so tired of the right that I wouldn't lose much sleep if all the young, impressionable conservatives and libertarians vanished into thin air. Except my two misguided nephews.

              I notice Mencken said We The Living was "a really excellent piece of work."

              "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

              by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:57:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Never read We the Living (3+ / 0-)

                but Atlas Shrugged was didactic prose at its MOST didactic and then stopped for 90 pages (in the paperback edition) so the author could lecture the readers at length about How Wonderful Her Philosophy Is and How Awful You Peons Are...while collecting money from the dole here in the U.S.

                Am I calling Rand a hack writer and a hypocrite?

                Why, yes. I am. She was.

                Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                by Youffraita on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 12:39:18 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I confess to having liked atlas shrugged (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Brecht

                And fountainhead a lot and have read them several times.

                We the living has the advantage of being short, but I didn't like it nearly as much.

                I think Ellsworth Toohey and The James taggarts are good examples of the quintessential republicans and that her philosophy of selfishness is a loser, but I found the books to be real page turners.

                Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

                by No Exit on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 08:22:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Don't worry; I'm no Libertarian. (3+ / 0-)

            Interesting. The only part of Atlas Shrugged that I felt dragged was the chapter where John Galt was explaining his (Ayn Rand's) philosophy.  I thought that chapter was too long and far too much of a lecture for a novel.

            I think that her philosophy is full of holes.  It is a survival of the fittest code where she has determined that the fittest are those who produce the most.  Anyone who can't produce can be left to die.  

            This only works if her view that only those who can produce deserve to live, is accepted.  I think that if a society is based on survival of the fittest, anyone who can accrue the most power would control, regardless of how they obtained it.

            Anyway, this is very enjoyable.  I knew Ayn Rand would be a controversial choice, but I think she deserves to be included here.

            •  I know her philosophy grew from revulsion against (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, WB Reeves

              Russia, and what went wrong with their revolution. Though if she made to the US in 1925, I'd have thought she escaped by far the worst of it, under Stalin. I think a problem with her philosophy, her fiction, and how she lived her life is, that she claimed it was all built on reason, when it was mostly based in her own strong hungers, wishes and fears, and was merely a dollhouse of rationalizations constructed on top of them.

              I agree about that long Galtian explanation, which stopped the action in its tracks. I think that was where Rand started pretending her dollhouse was logical and architecturally sound.

              "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

              by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:30:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  A quote from John Rogers: (4+ / 0-)
            There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged.  One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.  The other, of course, involves orcs.
            I much prefer the orcs.

            "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

            by Most Awesome Nana on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:12:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  The Fountainhead... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht

        ...is fantastic - so is Atlas Shrugged.  I haven't read We the Living but heard that was great too.

        Just sit down to enjoy and try not to let the philosophy get to you.

        What would Mothra do?

        by dov12348 on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:37:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This has to be a troll (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht

        “His glance was now like the hands of a man hanging over an abyss, groping frantically for the slightest fissure of doubt, but slipping on the clean, polished rock of her face.” - Atlas Shrugged

  •  zora neale hurston (7+ / 0-)

    has my vote for 'Their Eyes Were Watching God'. The sense of human strength and vulnerability expressed through Janie and Tea Cake is unforgettable and inspiring. A powerful love story.  

    'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

    by janis b on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:42:49 PM PDT

  •  I voted for Mary Shelley, though judging (12+ / 0-)

    any of these authors against is apples to grapes to pears......

    And for current-day authors - I read for fun, not really "greatness". I'm making up for an overly-serious childhood when I thought that everything I read or listened to had to matter..... Oh, I'm glad I did , because I read people like Ursula LeGuin. But now I'm old & tired, and Kim Harrison is just about my speed. Great, no, but her Hollows novels are fun. And JK Rowling, Sherri Tepper, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Margaret Atwood (the Handmaid's Tale is now too damn close to non-fiction & I can't re-read it any more).

    Anyway, my point is, I'm no judge of "great". Fun popcorn books, I can help you out, but serious literature, you'll have to ask someone else.

    We have done the impossible & that makes us mighty - Firefly

    by anotherdemocrat on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:48:11 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, it's one of the problems of (4+ / 0-)

      "women novelists" that men don't really have to deal with.  Imagine a poll that asked for the "great male novelist" and offered Voltaire, Dostoevsky, Hemingway, and Achebe.  Yikes.

      But it's not Brecht's fault: this is the problem of marginalization of women in the field.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:15:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  actually, my vote for Shelley isn't for a (5+ / 0-)

        novel, but for Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Yeah, Frankenstein was also really good.

        We have done the impossible & that makes us mighty - Firefly

        by anotherdemocrat on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:38:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Greatest Male novelist happens all the time (6+ / 0-)

        ..and the lists are just as crazy.  They all typically come down to either Joyce or Fitzgerald, depending on how Americancentric they are.

        Though admittedly those two get pegged more often for the greatest novels.  If its entire collected works, then it turns to Faulkner and Nabokov with some Hemingway thrown in.  If it makes a point about reaching back beyond the 20th century then its always Dickens vs Melville vs Dostoevsky.

        The point is correct though about apples to pears to grapes... it takes a special emphasis on specific context to make a meaningful comparison across that wide a spectrum without devolving into a measure of taste.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:43:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've never seen 'greatest male', only (7+ / 0-)

          'greatest', and the list is usually completely male.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:46:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I vote for Melville. (4+ / 0-)

          Except for Shakespeare (not a novelist), I think he used language the most beautifully.

          The caveat is that I can read Melville in English  If I could read other great writers such as Dostoevsky in the original language, I might have a different opinion.

          •  Hard to argue but for pure language... (5+ / 0-)

            I think I'd go Nabokov (in English).

            I forget which writer (T.S. Eliot maybe?) said: "For Nabokov the English Language is a pet, which he has trained and taught to do tricks."

            Lolita of course, but my personal favorite is Pale Fire.  The structure is unlike anything else.  I mean what other book do you almost need to own two copies of in order to read?  the story is great, the language is amazing.. and half of it is poetry!

            "I was the shadow of the waxwing slain"  .... over 12 years since my last reading and I still remember the first line.

            ((and yeah... lets agree to set aside Shakespeare for this.  If we add him, I'm going full-on John Milton and will quickly become insufferable))

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:05:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Haven't read Nabokov. (3+ / 0-)

              Hopefully someday I can find the time . . .

              I'm curious about your opinion on a related topic.  When modern American authors are discussed, Hemingway is invariably mentioned, but not Steinbeck.  For my money, Steinbeck was a greater writer than Hemingway.

              I have read, "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "A Farewell to Arms", "The Sun Also Rises", and "The Old Man and the Sea", and I don't think any of them hold a candle to "The Grapes of Wrath".  It seems that Steinbeck is out of vogue for some reason, but I don't understand why.

              What do you think?

              •  Steinbeck was huge at the time - between that, and (4+ / 0-)

                his books being so much of that time, I think he got a little left behind. But before 1950, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Steinbeck seem to me the big four US men.

                John dos Passos, Sherwood Anderson, Jack London, Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair, Frank Norris, Thomas Wolfe, Erskine Caldwell, John O'Hara, Henry Miller, Richard Wright, Nathanael West, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler were each big in their day, but few of them have stood the test of time. Some of them are magnificent, though.

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 08:57:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's interesting which books stand the test time. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Brecht, RiveroftheWest

                  For example, I think "The Sea Wolf" by Jack London is a great book, far better than "Call of the Wild" or "White Fang".  "The Sea Wolf" is the one that is least remembered, however.

                •  I'm not sure what you mean (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Brecht, RiveroftheWest

                  by not having stood the test of time.  All the writers you mention after your "big four" are still widely read and respected today and I imagine they will always occupy an important place in American literature.  

                  It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

                  by Radiowalla on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 09:32:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I was aiming for the top US novelists 1900-1950 so (3+ / 0-)

                    yes, they are all respected today. They're still read, but I wouldn't say widely - just among serious readers, most of them.

                    It's a question of degree. If you look at the big four, I've seen multiple novels by each of them, put out on the "suggested reading" tables at my local Barnes & Noble. I can only think of a few among the other fifteen I could say that of, and those would be the ones who are masters of their niches: Chandler, Miller & Wright.

                    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                    by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 10:02:08 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Read frank Norris's the octopus within the last (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RiveroftheWest, Brecht

                  Year and thought it was very, very good.  All about how farmers in ca tried to form a coop in order to get better rates from the rail roads and losing.

                  Made a great companion piece to night riders from the superb Robert penn warren about tobacco farmers in the south trying to organize against large buyers of tobacco in ord to get better prices and losing.

                  Dreiser's American tragedy is a masterpiece.

                  My apologies for replying to the tip jar.  I was rushing off the train and wanted to leave a quick post on the diary.  Didn't realize here I stopped to chat.  My phone isn't the dkos interface... Lol.

                  Another outstanding diary Brecht.

                  Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

                  by No Exit on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 08:34:49 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "Dreiser's American tragedy is a masterpiece." (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    No Exit, RiveroftheWest

                    Yes, so very sad. Some say Sister Carrie is better (I haven't got there yet). I've also only read the one Robert Penn Warren - which bowled me over. Good to know about Frank Norris, thanks.

                    Most of the outstanding in this diary came in all the fascinating comments that grew out of it. To paraphrase Falstaff, I'm not only eloquent, I'm the cause of eloquence in others. You could write a book diary someday, No Exit - you've plenty of knowledge and opinions to share.

                    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                    by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 12:49:08 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  For pure linguistic virtuosity (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, Brecht

              I would say Henry James, especially The Portrait of a Lady.  James's novels of the 1870s and 1880s represent to me the ultimate pitch of linguistic sensitivity and psychological observation.  

              •  I agree with all you say. And he was huge for long (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RiveroftheWest, llywrch, Youffraita

                after he wrote, among other writers and critics, seen as pre-eminent. He's fallen from favor in recent decades.

                The two strongest points against him are, he can feel cerebral, a bit anemic - he doesn't get caught up in his characters as Dickens (or even Tolstoy) would, so readers aren't always moved by his drama.

                Also, while some say his latest novels show the English language refined to perfection, more say that he got lost in his verbiage: as H. G. Wells put it, it's like an elephant trying to pick up a pea with its trunk.

                As I said, I'm closer to your view - but I think the criticisms are valid.

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 12:03:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Taming James (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Brecht, RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                  Yes, I can understand the criticism as well, particularly regarding those later novels, which are formidable to the point of being involuted.  That's why I specified the works from earlier in his career, although even there the tempo indications usually range between adagio and andante.  Portrait of a Lady starts with almost daring slowness, but few novels have rewired my brain as that one did. The later works are a challenge, though. I remember that after trying to get through Wings of the Dove that reading Shakespeare was like slicing through warm butter....

                  •  That's funny. I found that, after reading most of (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                    Shakespeare, pretty much every book since then was like slicing through butter.

                    But you can glide through the Bard, without worrying about the two-thirds you miss with your brain off; you can't get very far with James if you're not prepared to stop and ponder the subtleties and implications.

                    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                    by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:08:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The Elizabethan World Picture. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Brecht, RiveroftheWest

                      I took Shakespeare in high school, and we read, for background, a short pb called The Elizabethan World Picture. It made Shakespeare much more comprehensible b/c you then knew some of the things he references which we no longer believe in.

                      And there's nothing like an annotated version of the plays to help sort things out.

                      I must say, I think Shakespeare is a whole lot easier to read than Henry James. William James, by comparison, is a font of crystal-clear prose.

                      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                      by Youffraita on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:19:37 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I spent seven years in the Shakespeare Ensemble, (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                        in college. It was like a small, concentrated R&BLers. It was pretty wonderful: Discussing the Bard, putting on his plays, and partying with friends who cared enough to soak him up (and many other plays and books, too). Mostly we got outside directors in, so we were learning new skills and finding new angles every semester.

                        I'm ambivalent about Henry James, but very fond of William, and his writing. Henry's very good at short stories.

                        I'll have to write diaries, eventually, on Henry James and on Thomas Hardy. There is more good in both of them than most modern readers realize - a lot of people find Hardy as pointless as you do.

                        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                        by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 01:01:17 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  It's not that I find him pointless (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Brecht

                          it's that I don't feel he's worth reading.

                          Didactic much?

                          He's the nineteenth century forerunner of Ayn Rand.

                          NOT that their political philosophies are similar: no, not at all.

                          It's that their abilities to write good prose are identical.

                          Wooden. Stilted. Horrible.

                          ...are merely a few of the adjectives that come to mind.

                          Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                          by Youffraita on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 01:06:36 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

        •  The crazy part is that everyone KNOWS (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          anotherdemocrat, Brecht, Youffraita

          who the greatest male novelist of all time is. Sheesh. Talk about a gimme.

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:06:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Joyce? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brecht, Free Jazz at High Noon

          Finnegan's Wake?

          What would Mothra do?

          by dov12348 on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:40:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You forgot Tolstoy, the only author who often nabs (5+ / 0-)

          two of the top 10 spots. And I could go on for a long time here, but the first that spring to mind are Balzac, Flaubert, Proust, Conrad, James, Turgenev, Mann, Boll, Grass, Garcia Marquez, Cervantes, Soseki, Goethe, Pushkin, Kafka, Stendhal, Lawrence, Hardy, Fielding, Rabelais, Twain, Zola, Hugo, Musil, Ellison, Wright . . .

          Well, that's a long fight. But Tolstoy would knock Fitzgerald out in the first round, almost any way you choose to measure greatness. The Great Gatsby is a gem, but his career was short and uneven.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:49:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But where are the women? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brecht, Portlaw

            Where is Shakespeare's Sister in that list?

            (Or even Emily Bronte?)

            And, I mean really: Hardy?

            Hardy?

            Gah: Having to read Hardy made me never want to ever crack open another novel by Hardy, ever, for the rest of my life.

            Hardy? I spit on Hardy! Hardy wouldn't know how to craft a novel if Jane Austen threw the manuscript for Emma on him and told him how to punctuate it!

            Hardy? Hardly is more like it!

            Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

            by Youffraita on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 12:55:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well that's not fair. This entire diary is looking (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

              at Great Women Writers.

              If you'd followed my comment to its parent, you'd have seen that I was replying to a comment on "Greatest Male novelist lists", which named "Joyce or Fitzgerald . . . Faulkner and Nabokov with some Hemingway thrown in . . . Dickens vs Melville vs Dostoevsky."

              Your invective on Hardy was spirited and amusing. A lot of people agree with you. I don't.

              "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

              by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 01:35:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The Mayor of Casterbridge (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, Brecht, Youffraita

              I wonder if you have tried that one. It's extraordinary.

              •  Yes. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Brecht, RiveroftheWest

                Hated it.

                Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                by Youffraita on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:23:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Okay, let me phrase this politely: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Brecht

                IMO, Hardy couldn't write his way past the worst prose post-Shakespeare.

                Pamela looks like brilliance compared to him.

                Hardy makes "choose your own adventure" stories for children look like scintillating prose.

                Hardy plus paper bag equals: couldn't get out of it.

                Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                by Youffraita on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 01:40:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Quit pussyfooting & tell us what you really think (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                  of Hardy.

                  In this, and other comments, you've raised several interesting points and suggestions. But since I'm only semi-conscious, I'll have to return some hours from now, when I've had breakfast, much coffee, and a long walk. Then I'll try to frame some thoughts re. Hardy, Shakespeare, the James brothers & Bowie.

                  "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                  by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 05:39:11 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  de gustibus (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Brecht, RiveroftheWest

                    When someone expresses distaste in such strong and certain terms, it's usually best to move on.  

                    •  That depends on whether you enjoy loud arguments (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Youffraita, RiveroftheWest

                      that go around in circles.

                      They seem pretty popular on the rec list.

                      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                      by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 10:04:57 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  OMG, Brecht, it is SO much more fun (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Brecht, RiveroftheWest

                        to write a scathing review than a good one.

                        But I really mean it about Hardy. Had to read him in high school, and it turned me off of him for life.

                        I love Dickens. I love Austen. I love, y'know, great writers. Tolstoy! Sartre! William James!

                        Too bad Hardy never learned how to write.

                        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                        by Youffraita on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 12:39:39 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Scathing reviews are more fun, just as evil parts (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Youffraita, RiveroftheWest

                          are more fun to act than good ones. But the most thought-provoking books, reviews and characters are the chiaroscuros of light and dark.

                          I know most of your complaints are valid - though I find more power than clumsiness in Hardy. But you're only telling half the story. Okay, you suffered aversion therapy at a young age.

                          I think you're flat out wrong when you call his prose "Wooden. Stilted. Horrible." - but I'll address these points with examples, when I get around to my Hardy diary.

                          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                          by Brecht on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 11:07:33 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Here is a poem of Hardy's, full of nimbleness and (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          RiveroftheWest

                          punch (I don't have time to comb through his books for fine paragraphs). No doubt he read Ozymandias.

                          In between the passages you find stilted in his prose are passages like this, where he hits his mark with precision and grace:

                          .

                          The Children and Sir Nameless

                          Sir Nameless, once of Athelhall, declared:
                          "These wretched children romping in my park
                          Trample the herbage till the soil is bared,
                          And yap and yell from early morn till dark!
                          Go keep them harnessed to their set routines:
                          Thank God I've none to hasten my decay;
                          For green remembrance there are better means
                          Than offspring, who but wish their sires away."

                          Sir Nameless of that mansion said anon:
                          "To be perpetuate for my mightiness
                          Sculpture must image me when I am gone."
                          - He forthwith summoned carvers there express
                          To shape a figure stretching seven-odd feet
                          (For he was tall) in alabaster stone,
                          With shield, and crest, and casque, and word complete:
                          When done a statelier work was never known.

                          Three hundred years hied; Church-restorers came,
                          And, no one of his lineage being traced,
                          They thought an effigy so large in frame
                          Best fitted for the floor. There it was placed,
                          Under the seats for schoolchildren. And they
                          Kicked out his name, and hobnailed off his nose;
                          And, as they yawn through sermon-time, they say,
                          "Who was this old stone man beneath our toes?"

                          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                          by Brecht on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 12:12:37 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I bow to Ozymandias. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Brecht

                            I think one of the greatest unfinished poems in the English language begins "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree..."

                            I think that poem you just published would be perfect ammunition for Dorothy Parker to skewer.

                            It is stilted, amateurish, and jejune.

                            Sorry.

                            Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                            by Youffraita on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 01:57:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The argument's become pointless. You're not taking (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            RiveroftheWest

                            the time to think, you're making knee-jerk responses based on your strong feelings.

                            I know you're smart, well-read, full of opinions. But you have a mental block here. Your prejudice against Hardy is so strong that you can't see past it, to the text itself.

                            It's not that he can't be criticized. It's that the adjectives you use have no relation to the text itself.

                            Hardy can be stilted, but isn't here - except in the actual words of Sir Nameless, which deliberately reflect his pompous personality. Hardy manages his words, rhythms and meanings with skill and sharp aim, and shapes his tale nicely. Your "amateurish, and jejune" aren't in the poem - they're just labels you've pasted to your mental image of Hardy.

                            Perhaps I was appearing pompous myself, in my defense of Hardy, and you felt like tweaking me. I enjoy your opinions, Youffraita, and your spirited defense of them. But if your opinions on Hardy are completely sincere, than they are also short-sighted.

                            I believe your feelings against Hardy are too strong for you to read him and make an objective judgment. We all have blind spots like this. I think we judge more fairly when we notice our own blindnesses. You're welcome to point out mine, when you spot them.

                            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                            by Brecht on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 04:29:48 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  That's just my opinion, of course (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Brecht, RiveroftheWest

                but I have read a lot of different works, in many different genres, over many different centuries.

                Hardy couldn't create a sympathetic character if you gave it to him, already written and wrapped up in silk.

                Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                by Youffraita on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 01:43:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I have never seen a list (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest, Brecht, Youffraita

            With Tolstoy at the top.  And it is rare to see a list, unless it is for a particular sub-section, that doesn't list Gatsby or Ulysses as number one.  

            War and peace is good, but not that good.

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:24:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Tolstoy really is that good. He can do pretty much (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

              everything, and was so determined to find a fresh and authentic view of all he saw that he invented in every direction. The same applies to Joyce, and Ulysses is certainly one of the bravest, most original and impressive novels ever penned.

              I've been researching Best Novel lists for a couple of years now. Unless you're obsessive about book lists, I've read more lists of great novels than you have, Wisper. Here's a Diary about my Quest.

              J. Peder Zane did some list-crunching, to find The 10 Greatest Books of All Time.

              What if . .you went to all the big-name authors in the world—Franzen, Mailer, Wallace, Wolfe, Chabon, Lethem, King, 125 of them— and got each one to cough up a top-10 list of the greatest books of all time. . . Then you printed and collated all the lists, crunched the numbers together, and used them to create a definitive all-time Top Top 10 list. . .
              Here, in all its glory, is the all-time, ultimate Top Top 10 list, derived from the top 10 lists of 125 of the world's most celebrated writers combined. Read it and— well, just read it.

              1   Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
              2   Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
              3   War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
              4   Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
              5   The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
              6   Hamlet by William Shakespeare
              7   The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
              8   In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
              9   The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
              10 Middlemarch by George Eliot

              "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

              by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 12:40:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks for the list. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RiveroftheWest, Brecht

                I'm reading Anna Karenina as we speak (Pevear/Volokhonsky translation) and am totally blown away. This is one of the deepest but most readable stories ever, a tribute to Tolstoy. Even had me googling for pix of Russian peasants in 1875, and I've never been interested in Russia.

                This after decades of avoiding the Russian authors because of fear of complexity (or long names), altho I did read Crime and Punishment in the 60s when I didn't have a TV.

                I foresee a long happy reading life for me now....

                •  I bought the Pevear/Volokhonsky 'Anna Karenina' (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RiveroftheWest

                  a week and a half ago, and am looking forward to it very much. There was an illuminating article on them especially, and translation in general: The Translation Wars.

                  I've been swimming in books about Russian Novels, and will write a three diary overview (in July, I hope). If you want "a long happy reading life", I'll have about fifty more suggestions for you . . .

                  "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                  by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 01:13:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I like Barbara kingsolver (9+ / 0-)

    The poison wood bible is epic.  I am currently reading le guin for the first time and enjoying it very much.  

    We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers - thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams. - Peter S. Beagle

    by jk2003 on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:49:11 PM PDT

  •  also (6+ / 0-)

    Anne Michaels for 'Fugitive Pieces'

    'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

    by janis b on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:50:22 PM PDT

  •  I'm surprised not to see Doris Lessing yet n/t (7+ / 0-)

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:57:31 PM PDT

  •  Alison Lurie! Foreign Affairs is brill. eom (4+ / 0-)
  •  Jane Austen (I said this before) (5+ / 0-)

    You know what about her nice middle-class women and their search for rich husbands and matching real estate?

    I. Don't. Give a shit.

    Sue me.

    •  I've tried, too.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brecht, Youffraita
    •  I can't speak for her other readers, (6+ / 0-)

      but I don't care much about the plot.  It's the ungodly perfect prose and razor-sharp wit.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:17:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not so in love with her prose, but (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pico, Brecht, RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

        I love her plots! Nothing like a good romance.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:36:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Blasphemy! (4+ / 0-)

          Her prose is like [insert clever simile from more talented prose-writer than me]!

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:58:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Her prose is (3+ / 0-)

            like her heart--an algorithm of sex and real estate.

            •  Nice bon mot. But "sex" is the wrong word, for (5+ / 0-)

              Austen.

              I'd say her ideal is a warm heart, a dry wit, and a snug estate. And her prose has a lot more ingredients, which she doesn't show off, and may take awhile for the discerning palate to discover.

              "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

              by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:58:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No Esther Summersons at Jane's (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RiveroftheWest, Brecht

                If Mr. Darcy got disfigured by smallpox he'd die in a riding accident in about two chapters.  One, if he lost his money.  You know it's so.  :-)

                •  Do I explain more, or just accept your flippancy? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                  You give no indication that you're considering other people's views, for any longer than it takes to parry them.

                  There is some thought to what you say. I see your points. But you sell Jane short. She recognized the horizons of her work:

                  What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited sketches, full of variety and glow? How could I possibly join them on to the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labour?
                  She also, within that frame, achieved an entirely new species of perfection.

                  "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                  by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:26:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Oh, I admit I'm being annoying (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Brecht, RiveroftheWest

                    I really have tried for many years to manage her, without success. My children adore her. My friends say I'm missingout. But that really is the impression she gives me--the one about Mr. Darcy and the smallpox.  It's why I love Dickens and dislike Austen. He has a heart and she doesn't. It's jut a subjective sense of it I have; I don't claim it as some factual insight.  

                    •  Thanks for dropping the flippancy for a moment. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                      It took me decades to appreciate Austen's keen wit, social awareness and moral sensitivity: She has an exceptionally sound mind and heart. But she does stick to her drawing rooms and picnics, so her world is less robust than Dickens', Eliot's or Tolstoy's.

                      Dickens is a man of many gifts. But I find his cloying passages far more annoying than anything in Austen. As Wilde put it, you'd have to be heartless to read the death-scene of Little Nell without laughing.

                      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                      by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 09:44:55 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Nah, not really. (5+ / 0-)

              Her heart, maybe(?), but definitely not her prose.  Her prose is too absorbed in irony (which isn't a quality of real estate and, one typically hopes, of sex), mostly because she has a lot of fun with the distance between the things people want to say and the restrictions of etiquette in the society they inhabit.  That could be the stuff of insufferable soap opera, but Austen has the good sense (and taste) to play it for comedy.  Readers usually point to that tension in her dialogue, where it's easy to see, but it's just as evident in her narrative prose.  Look at the famous opening of Pride and Prejudice:

              It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
              That'd be laugh-out-loud funny if one were allowed to laugh at loud in that repressed society.  Austen's prose captures that tension perfectly: the text may be sex and real estate, but the style is carefully-controlled irony.

              Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

              by pico on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 11:26:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  pico, that's just it: (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pico, Brecht, RiveroftheWest, darkmatter

                Austen was a razor-sharp commenter on the hypocrisies of the society in which she lived.

                That's one reason why she is still being read, her books are still being made into movies, and she is still adored by readers: two centuries later.

                Who else comes to mind? Well, Shakespeare has a few centuries on her...and he didn't write novels...but he seems the closest comparison in terms of wit and genius.

                Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                by Youffraita on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 11:46:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  We were talking about creators of the modern novel (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RiveroftheWest

                  I think, in that respect, Shakespeare is the one writer who ran rings around Austen. He invented a fifth of the modern novel: She invented a tenth.

                  "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                  by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 01:38:24 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Austen's prose style (4+ / 0-)

                Austen's prose just trembles with life.  Her novel Emma is a virtual clinic in indirect free style, which she mastered long before Proust discovered it in Flaubert.  

                •  Have you read James Wood? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RiveroftheWest

                  He's a very sharp and extremely readable critic. He makes the same point: there's a chapter in his The Broken Estate called 'Jane Austen's Heroic Consciousness'.

                  "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                  by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 12:48:46 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Brecht, RiveroftheWest

                    I've not read the particular essay you mention, but I have read many of his essays in The Atlantic. I'll have to take a look at this one.  Perhaps if I ever restore Austen to my sophomore lit courses I will use it . . . I removed Austen a while back, when I became too depressed that too many students (sometimes entire classrooms) did not pick up on her wry humor -- even after I held their hands through multiple examples.  Sigh.

                    •  Austen's pretty popular around these parts, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      RiveroftheWest

                      with almost half the votes in the poll. But the Daily Kos Readers & Book Lovers group have mostly had time to read more books than your students. I've certainly found Austen's charms grew on me, as I saw more of life and read more books.

                      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                      by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 02:34:02 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  I've also said this before (9+ / 0-)

      in some other diary where someone was trashing Austen, I tried to make the point

      Austen is a pivot point in the time line of English Literature.  You don't understand what she was writing against.  

      Her larger point aside from genteel story-telling is to break from what are known as "Sensibility Novels" or "Sentimental Novels" like Vicar of Wakefiled and The Fool of Quality and all that sort of stuff.

      Other writers in her time were starting to write open scathing satires of them, while her take was much more subtle.  Lose that context and I can understand why you fail to take away anything from her writing, character forming, dialog, rationalization and structure.

      You not giving a shit is hardly relevant.   Read The Sorrows of Young Werther and you will be equally underwhelmed but I would hope you'd have the wisdom and self-restraint from proclaiming that Goethe is a horrible writer.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:54:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  pre-1950, Carson McCullers (7+ / 0-)

    Maybe not greatest-of-the-greatest, but my clear favorite.

    post-1950, I'm not sure.  Marguerite Yourcenar, maybe?

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:12:39 PM PDT

    •  "Favorite" is a cleaner, simpler question. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, Youffraita

      Unless you're neurotic, you can figure out your favorites in a category just by paying attention to it and feeling the strength of your response.

      "Great" is my most-overused word; it is resonant, but one of the least definite. It seems like it points to a smooth marble edifice, but in practice it gets stuck between "I like most", "It meets my highest intellectual standards" and "It must be Great, because the critics and professors all say so".

      In your field you're slightly inoculated against the tides of groupthink, but not immune. You also have more critical tools, and have spent longer dwelling on the relative greatness of different books.

      Sorry, you know all this. It's just been buzzing in my head.

      I have a lot more reading to do post-1950 before I'd even venture a favorite.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:31:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Made me check because (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Brecht, pico, Youffraita

      I thought Memoirs of Hadrian came out after 1950. My bad.

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 08:43:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Doris Lessing....and/or (6+ / 0-)

    Margaret Atwood...And that poll was probably the hardest I've ever answered here at dKos--love all those writers!
        Both Lessing and Atwood have this steely, impeccable eye for both the personal and the political, and a strong sense of place and time.  (Lessing's sci-fi, though, not my fav, nor her poetry).

    In a dark time, the eye begins to see. Theodore Roethke

    by bibble on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:23:57 PM PDT

  •  I went for Murasaki Shikibu (8+ / 0-)

    because no one else had and because she basically started the whole idea of "women writing novels".

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:28:47 PM PDT

  •  Not sure about 'great,' but (5+ / 0-)

    one of the very few female authors of the past 50 years whom I re-read is Gloria Naylor.

    Thinking this through, I'm struck by how overwhelming male my literary taste is. (Though I suppose that's not a huge surprise, being a man. I have female friends who read almost exclusively women, simply because that's who writes the genre they enjoy most.)

    And the poll isn't fair! It goes back before 1950!

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:33:47 PM PDT

  •  first names to pop into my mind (10+ / 0-)

    madeline l'engle and barbara pym

    though i would say i can't figure out whether they are before 1950 or after 1950

    and i'm sure no one has heard of barbara pym so she would likely not qualify because of that unless you have a category: best women's author possibly after 1950 that no one has ever heard about

    i really like the books of diana wynn jones and j.k. rowling except they are not 'high-brow' so they would be in the category: best women's author after 1950 who wrote wonderfully popular books

    beyond that, i'm stumped. i'm afraid i like jhumpa lahiri and elizabeth strout but i'm not sure i would consider them 'best'.  

  •  Ayn Rand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dov12348, Brecht

    She had a strong viewpoints that were controversial.  I loved Atlas Shrugged.

  •  Atwood,Octavia Butler,Angela Carter (5+ / 0-)

    ABC,so just a start....but the greatest among these is Angela Carter. Gone way to soon.Read for her luminous originality coupled with her wry humor,fierce intelligence and great,good heart.& what of Maryse Conde with her polyphonous voice,thoughtfully communicating with a depth few reach?Byatt Robertson,Morrison, Murdoch,Walker,Winterson,Smith. Of course,I could go on and on and you don't want just lists.The trouble with libras....

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 06:52:45 PM PDT

  •  Fannie Flagg, because she is SO funny! (9+ / 0-)

    And yet--and yet--her books contain hard kernels of truth about the human condition.  I'm thinking particularly of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.

    There are lots of modern women novelists, but not all of them would fall into the category of "great."

    Yes, I do think women read more books than men. Someone told me that 70 percent of the books in this country are bought by women.  Think about it:  women can't, or don't usually, go to sports bars, drink beer for hours while cheering on their favorite teams on the huge TV screen, and then lurch out to their cars to drive home.

    Women generally don't go jogging at night. We know what will happen to us if we do.

    So we read.

    Great topic for discussion, Brecht!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:30:31 PM PDT

    •  "Think about it: women can't, or don't usually, go (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Youffraita
      to sports bars, drink beer for hours while cheering on their favorite teams on the huge TV screen, and then lurch out to their cars to drive home."
      And men infer from this that they're smarter, and women are boring. Though, in fairness, I've never had a man expect me to watch the house and garden channel with them. That may be informative in theory, but it lacks something as a social activity.

      Actually, anything can be a good social activity, if you take the time to decide on something that the whole group is interested in - which is a skill I find more in women than in men.

      I enjoyed the movie of Fried Green Tomatoes, but never heard of Fannie Flagg, or knew she wrote anything else. But gritty wisdom leavened with humor is a fine recipe, so I'll look for her. Thanks, Diana.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 09:24:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, Fanny Flagg is wonderful. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, RiveroftheWest

        It speaks volumes (to me, at least, b/c I know what a critic I am) that I enjoyed the novel of Fried Green Tomatoes just as much as I enjoyed the movie.

        Usually, I like one or the other version and loathe the one I don't much like.

        Not with Fried Green Tomatoes. They're both excellent.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:47:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Heck, I like Mary Wesley (5+ / 0-)

    Her first novel was published when she was 70. Before she started making money from books she was subsisting on a tiny pension in a damp cottage in something-shire, England.

    Her books are fascinating because they involve weird subjects. My favorite of hers is Harnessing Peacocks. Another favorite is The Camomile Lawn. Part of the Furniture was her last one, I think.

    The one I didn't like was about the woman who wanted to commit suicide but her pet goose wouldn't let her.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:42:59 PM PDT

    •  "Her first novel was published when she was 70." (3+ / 0-)

      I find this very reassuring. At the rate I'm going, that's about when my first novel will appear, too. There are many authors who turned out good books, even though they started late (though 70 is whatever's the opposite of precocious).

      I don't know about the book, but that sounds like a well-intentioned goose.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 09:28:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hard to Choose Between (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jk2003, RiveroftheWest, Brecht, Radiowalla

    A S Byatt and Louise Erdrich, tho' I prefer Anita Brookner.

    Anita Desai, anyone?

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:48:36 PM PDT

    •  Two of those women have won the Booker Prize; (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, Radiowalla, RiveroftheWest

      Anita Desai's been shortlisted thrice; Louise Erdrich was shortlisted for the Pulitzer, and will win more prizes soon, I expect.

      What other literary prizes do you usually pay attention to, besides the Nobel, the Pulitzer and the Booker?

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 10:11:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Orange & Orange Broadbend (5+ / 0-)

        for Fiction by women and new writers, respectively, who are published in UK;

        Pen-Falkner Award for Fiction published by US citizen;

        National Book Critics Circle Award (IMHO, sometimes does a better job than Pulitzer).

        That's pretty much it.

        R&BLers ran a series in 2011 on literary prizes called, And the Winner Is. . . edited by 88kathy that focused on little known lit prizes all over the world.  I really liked it, but I guess I was one of the few.

        Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

        by Limelite on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 03:57:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good to know. I'll look into all of those, and see (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, Limelite, Youffraita

          what other leads 88kathy came up with.

          I updated this diary with the women who won Nobels, Pulitzers and Bookers for Novels since 1950 and the lists do point towards many of the best writers of our time. Just like they ought to.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:32:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Ayn Rand is in a class by herself. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brecht, Free Jazz at High Noon

    Except that only Atlas Shrugged was written after 1950.  This book should be mandatory reading if only because it will give you insight into libertarian thought. But it's infinitely more than that.  And it's laced with really funny stuff.

    What would Mothra do?

    by dov12348 on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 08:01:03 PM PDT

  •  Dorothy Dunnett 1923-2001 (5+ / 0-)

    The Lymond Chronicles series (6 books), House of Niccolo series (eight books) and King Hereafter.  The best of the best historical fiction, imo.  She is my first choice for powerful storytelling.

    Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blixen (1885–1962).  Out of Africa is her best known and her letters home from Africa are fascinating.

    also:

    Seven Gothic Tales
    Winter's Tales
    Last Tales
    Shadows on the Grass

    Margaret Walker wrote Jubilee

    Edwidge Danticat wrote Brother, I Am Dying.

    I like many authors that others have mentioned here such as Isabel Allende, Kingsolver, LeGuin, McKillip.  

    I would add C. J. Cherry and Marion Zimmer Bradley.

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 09:06:28 PM PDT

  •  What about (5+ / 0-)

    Daphne DuMaurier?  I've heard it said that "Jamaica Inn" is one of the most perfect novels ever written.  She penned a number of classics, also made into classic movies.

    You can order Pootie Pads here. Pooties love them!

    by Sara R on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 09:39:55 PM PDT

  •  As to your poll: Jane Austen, no contest. (5+ / 0-)

    She practically invented the comedy of manners in novel form. In fact, she practically invented the modern novel as we know it. I mean, just read some of the dreck that was published before her!

    Virginia Woolf wrote some wonderful novels, but she was being all modern in reaction to late Victorian ... schmaltz.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 10:36:56 PM PDT

    •  Jane Austen does seem to be winning handily (4+ / 0-)

      I actually think Eliot wrote greater novels - but that's like saying Beethoven wrote greater music than Mozart, when really he just wrote heavier music. I think there's more in Eliot, because she worked long and hard to put more there. But she lacked Austen's natural grace and, as you say, Austen's immense influence on all who came after her.

      At the time she was writing, Scott was having a far greater impact on the novel. All around the world, people started writing historical novels - even Mark Twain, who hated Scott. But Austen pioneered the romance and the comedy of manners, and those had a gradual but sweeping effect on the 19th and 20th century novel.

      Woolf is brilliant, immensely original, and frequently delightful.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 11:14:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good call on Austen, Brecht. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, RiveroftheWest
      •  Look, I love & adore Middlemarch: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, Portlaw, bookgirl, RiveroftheWest

        the question is, could Eliot have built on what Austen created, if Austen hadn't been there to create it?

        Someone undoubtedly would have created the modern novel if Austen had never published a word.

        But, in fact, she did and in so doing shaped the modern novel as we know it, and that is why she deserves to win your poll.

        What Eliot did was no mean feat -- but the substructure was already there; she didn't have to invent it.

        Same goes for Dickens, actually...and I adore Dickens. But he didn't create the modern novel.

        They all built on what Austen pioneered.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 11:21:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You raise fascinating points. Aiming for brevity: (4+ / 0-)

          I've got no problem with Austen winning the poll for, I'd guess, her lucid readability and the size of her influence.

          In Eliot's corner, she was - amongst stiff competition - perhaps the smartest novelist of the 1800s. Fantastic autodidact, who studied widely for most of her novels, and stretched her skills as she went. She had a larger mind than Austen. But her intellectualism can get in her way, and make her ponderous.

          Austen did shape the modern novel. She didn't create it.

          In Europe, first you get Cervantes. Up through 1850, the novel is a French and English game (with Goethe, Hawthorne and Cooper, and some Russian sparks).

          In England, before Austen, you had Defoe, Fielding, Richardson, Smollett, Sterne and Swift. Austen read most of what they'd written. France had Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and Prévost. What Austen wrote reads more like a modern novel than anything before her - but she did draw on a lot of preliminary steps.

          Stendhal made a similar leap to Austen, albeit after her and with less grace. Balzac, though, may have had as much influence on the modern novel as Austen did. Wilde said that Balzac was largely responsible for the invention of the nineteenth century. Dickens learned a huge amount from him, as did all the other English, French and Russian novelists. And then Flaubert brought a crystallization of realism, with Madame Bovary. Finally, Dickens himself advanced the novel in many respects. You have to look at Pickwick Papers and chart his course from there, seeing how he kept growing as he went, absorbing new skills. With his serialization he turned the novel from an expensive leather bound objet d'art into magazines that 20 times as many readers could afford, and he worked out the finer details of plotting and keeping readers on the edge of their seats, so they'd come back for more.

          Austen was a visionary pioneer. Balzac, Fielding, Defoe and Dickens were too.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 01:08:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Okay, my rejoinder: (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brecht, RiveroftheWest

            You are correct in noting all the influences Austen read, and which affected her prose style.

            In England, before Austen, you had Defoe, Fielding, Richardson, Smollett, Sterne and Swift. Austen read most of what they'd written. France had Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and Prévost. What Austen wrote reads more like a modern novel than anything before her - but she did draw on a lot of preliminary steps.
            Sure, she drew on what came before her: as those who came after drew on what she did.

            She is the mother of us all.

            Dafoe, Fielding, and Swift were nowhere near as good. I can't speak to the rest b/c...well, they aren't important enough for me to have ever run across their work.

            Voltaire? Yes, certainly. But not a modern novel. Picaresque is NOT a "modern novel." It may have its charms, but "modern novel" is not among them.

            Rousseau? Wasn't he a painter? /snark

            Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

            by Youffraita on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 01:17:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Isn't it more like a baton that is passed (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, Brecht

              rather than a birthing of something entirely new?  Those who came before Austen were really the creators of the novel form which Austen refined with artistry and wit.  I don't see her as the "mother" of the novel, the "Queen" perhaps, but not the "mother."
              The novel continued to be shaped and reshaped in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Today, new writers are doing the same thing, picking up the baton and running with it.

              It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

              by Radiowalla on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 09:15:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  That tension (6+ / 0-)
      Virginia Woolf wrote some wonderful novels, but she was being all modern in reaction to late Victorian ... schmaltz.
      is what I find so fascinating about Mrs Dalloway.

      To the Lighthouse is just a tour-de-force. This is the late Victorian Age completely adrift (sorry) and crashing on the rocks (again, sorry ;-) of the Modern.

      Would be an interesting Modernist novel based on that premise alone, but the prose. Oh my: elegiac.

      Incandescent.

  •  Connie Willis. (3+ / 0-)

    My favorite writer since 1950. What she does is so deceptively easy-looking. She can craft a gem of a comedic short story around quantum mechanics ("At the Rialto") or menstruation ("Even the Queen") or write a long, funny, intricate time travel novel ("To Say Nothing of the Dog") but she also does serious. I focus on the funny b/c, after all, there's enough stuff to be depressed by in life.

    In her short work in particular, Willis never uses one extraneous word. In her longer work, she still doesn't use extraneous words: everything is extremely, deceptively easy.

    It ain't easy to write like that.

    Ask Tara if you don't believe me. ;-D

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 10:47:15 PM PDT

    •  I think I've read 5 Willis novels, including her (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita, RiveroftheWest

      world war two-fer, but only one short story. So I'll have to find a collection to nibble on. She does go down pretty easy.

      Well, after reading this fertile comment section, I'll have a lot of names to add to my TBR list.

      Always a pleasure to see you, Youffraita.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 11:20:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Try Connie's collection "Impossible Things" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, RiveroftheWest

        It includes "At the Rialto" and "Even the Queen" and her award-winning stories "The Last of the Winnebagos" and "Spice Pogrom" (the latter is her tribute to screwball comedy & I've always wished it could be turned into a screwball comedy movie but think it's probably too intricate for a good screenplay).

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 11:26:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Esi Edugyan and Half-Blood Blues (4+ / 0-)

    "Greatest" or "favorite" -- both are impossible. It is like asking "greatest sunrise" or "greatest fruit or vegetable" or "favorite child."

    Esi Edugyan is (a) a woman and (b) a fine novelist and (c) winner of the Giller Prize in Canada. The only novel of hers that I've read is Half-Blood Blues, set first in Berlin and Paris not long before the U.S. entered the war, and then in contemporary times.

    The blues band she writes about is comprised mostly of African-Americans, but the most outstanding player is the one who is most vulnerable in the Nazi regime: a German citizen, born in Germany, son of a German mother and an African father.

    Excellent novel, beautifully written.

    She's just a beginner in her writing career compared to some of the classic writers you mention. But she's off to a fine start.

    •  That reads seriously interesting! nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita, Brecht, RiveroftheWest
    •  A fine suggestion, as nobody's mentioned her yet (3+ / 0-)

      Your observation is poetic - but still, you found an answer to the question.

      There usually isn't a "greatest" - but whatever someone calls their greatest, is worth at least a look. I just use "best of" lists as if they were window-shopping lists, a treasure trove of names to explore. Though, as with any story, you take the source into account. If the New York Times produced a list of the "Greatest Women Novelists", I'd assume they'd put a bit of thought and research into their selections.

      The other side of the coin is learning more about other Kossacks. It does say something about you, what you consider great.

      Thanks for explaining a bit about Half-Blood Blues. It's a colorful premise, with some darkness mixed in.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 11:30:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hilary Mantel (4+ / 0-)

    gets my nod, not only for her last two Booker winners, but her body of work. I recommend Every Day is Mothers Day, Vacant Possession and A Place of Greater Safety without reservation.

    "Well Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?"

    by buffie on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 04:35:49 AM PDT

    •  I've got her Cromwell books in my sights, but it's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

      very good to know where to look next.

      I have to get to more Coetzee, too - a sharp and subtle writer, and the only other double Booker winner. Very interesting literary critic, too.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:45:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I liked Wolf Hall better than the later one (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, Brecht, Youffraita

        whose name escapes me. She has an interesting ability to imagine herself into a wholly different type of human being; very impressive.

        Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

        by peregrine kate on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:51:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Two that I don't see mentioned (5+ / 0-)

    but I admire:
    After 1950 - Amy Tan
    Before 1950 - Pearl S Buck
    I haven't read either authors in a very long time but love their novels.
    My favorite of Tan's is The Kitchen God's Wife, even moreso than her first book that put her on the map, The Joy Luck Club.
    I've only read Pearl S Buck's The Good Earth and it was many years ago.  I just looked up her biography and she led a pretty amazing life, engaging in women's issues long before it was acceptable.  What a remarkable woman.  

    •  Tan, I know of, because of her huge popularity (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

      (but haven't tried her yet). And I noticed Pearl S. Buck when researching this diary, as one of the twelve women who's won the Nobel.

      Thanks for your recommendations, Mollywog.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:47:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Harper Lee... (5+ / 0-)

    ...as anyone who read my diary (http://www.dailykos.com/...) could have figured out.

    But I am also very fond of Toni Cade Bambara - especially Gorilla, My Love (1072) - because she wrote about young women who were just beginning to realize the possibilities and limitations of being women.  I was the right age and it was the right time.

    And I see we have a good many "Janeites" here!  

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:58:53 AM PDT

    •  Jane does appear to have won the crown. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

      Youffraita and I had a spirited debate upstream on how she compares with Eliot, and how large her influence really is.

      Thanks for pointing out Toni Cade Bambara, and for your Most Awesome link, which I will check out after breakfast and grocery shopping.

      I've been looking back through all the Books That Changed My Life diaries. It's enjoyable and moving, finding out just how well people write when they're discussing a book that touched them deeply and made them think.

      Have an awesome weekend, Nana.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:55:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  angela carter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, Brecht, darkmatter

    for her bravery

    I buy and sell well trained riding mules and American Mammoth Jack Stock.

    by old mule on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:18:34 AM PDT

  •  Great diary, Brecht; many thanks for sparking (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, Brecht, Youffraita

    this conversation. I've hotlisted the diary so I can return for reading suggestions.
    I think my favorites would be Margaret Atwood, Ursula LeGuin, and Toni Morrison. They don't always succeed at what they attempt, but they are each ambitious in her own unique way.
    I'd say that one commonality among them that I appreciate, however, is a large measure of dispassion. None of them is sentimental.
    I'd like to mention one other contemporary American woman novelist I admire a great deal, though she's not yet produced a body of work to bring her up to the top level: Gish Jen. Probably most will know her from Mona in the Promised Land, which is funny and clever and achieved some success, but I like her best for Typical American, her first novel, which is simply brilliant on multiple levels. It's a wonderful novel of emigration and assimilation which interestingly enough draws upon the novels of the great male novelists of the fifties, including both Roths, besides the major female Chinese-American novelists the generation before her, including Maxine Hong Kingston.
    I used Typical American in one of my intro to American Studies courses for a few years, and every semester we seemed to find something new and evocative in it. Definitely worth a read.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 12:01:07 PM PDT

    •  Your three muses all carry magic in their stories (3+ / 0-)

      and in the spells they cast with words. Marvelous imaginations.

      "None of them is sentimental", but they are all very aware of the subtleties of human nature, and can evoke powerful feelings in their readers.

      I don't know Gish Jen at all. But you're astute and have good taste, so I will look for Typical American.

      The second Cromwell book by Mantel is Bring up the Bodies.

      Thanks for the eloquent and insightful opinions you brought to the conversation, peregrine kate.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 02:52:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have enjoyed your R&BL diaries quite a bit. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, Brecht, Youffraita

        And now I think I will be following you, no malice intended!

        I did look back at your Golden Notebook diary. I agree, it's very powerful indeed when a novelist writes beyond what she knows. That's probably the most exciting experience for the reader, too. A rare one, and a life lesson as well for those of us who like to think we are (and should be) in control.

        Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

        by peregrine kate on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 03:19:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm glad that you enjoy my work. It was nice that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

          this diary turned into so much conversation - I learned a lot.

          Creativity and being in control. Well, you can achieve great art while grasping your text around the neck, if you put in a huge amount of work. I think Tolstoy, Eliot, Joyce and Hemingway each wrote novels this way. But they each had huge talents, and so much spirit in them that it flowed into their work, even through their tightly clenched fingers.

          Looking at Dylan in the '60s and Bowie in the '70s, it seems that you can reach the same size of creative vision (if LPs compare to novels) with less conscious control. But you need a head full of ideas, a root system of social and human awareness, and a very finely balanced intuition.

          One way towards great art is to develop the control, and then find the confidence to let go and flow more intuitively - so you can make the same bold brushstrokes, but need less pressure to do so. Picasso did this, I think.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:21:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not QUITE certain (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brecht, RiveroftheWest

            what you mean:

            Looking at Dylan in the '60s and Bowie in the '70s, it seems that you can reach the same size of creative vision (if LPs compare to novels) with less conscious control.
            b/c I have always been under the impression that Bowie knew exactly what he was doing...that, in fact, his career was built on it (in much the same way as Madonna built hers and as Lady Gaga is building hers). IOW, total control over image and bling and everything else.

            Same creative vision, and same conscious control.

            Y'know?

            Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

            by Youffraita on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 12:13:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not entirely certain what I mean - my thoughts (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest

              on this are evolving.

              Bowie has always been ambitious, diligent, thoughtful and looking towards the future. But he hasn't kept lucid and in control. Diamond Dogs was a sloppier album than the three before (Hunky, Ziggy, Aladdin). By Young Americans and Station to Station he was so pressured, twisted and coked out that he was living as a recluse, and seeing his walls open portals into other worlds and hells. So he fled to Berlin.

              Bowie, Madonna and Lady Gaga are similar. Yes, I can see they all control their own images, and own the package at the end of the day. But that's not their creative method: They all have enormous root structures, in the culture, influences and people around them. They reach out and absorb thousands of ideas in every direction. They are not logicians who sit alone and map out their campaigns, they are intuitives who feel all the currents and make the most of them.

              Sure, they all have logic in them. But it's not their deepest gift or power. Dylan said that Blood on the Tracks ('75) was the first time he managed to do consciously what he'd found by accident in his mid-'60s explosion of creativity.

              In the '70s, Bowie's unconscious kept exploding with new ideas, and he was very shrewd and nimble about picking the best ones, and building hits and albums out of them.

              "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

              by Brecht on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 02:41:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Isabel Allende and Toni Morrison (4+ / 0-)

    I haven't really read Ursula LeGuin but I want to very badly.

  •  One more, belated, nominee: Penelope Fitzgerald. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brecht, RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

    I need to read more of her books; so far, I've read only The Blue Flower, which was as exquisite a re-imagining as I have ever read. Utterly beautiful.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:56:11 PM PDT

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