Oh lists, how I love you. Anyway, apparently there are people going around “pretending” to have read books they have not, in fact, read. Insert something about our increasingly conformist, status-hungry society… you know my themes. The books in this list are apparently Important so I guess people feel like they should have read them, and are too embarrassed to admit they haven’t. Well I’m not. A book you haven’t read is a book you haven’t thrown across the room in disgust or tossed in the donation bin at Goodwill. I’ve read a lot of books, some of them over and over. I’ve even read some of the books on the list. Here is my list:
1.Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I’ve not read this. I looked through it at the bookstore and it just didn’t seem like my cup of tea. Still doesn’t.
2. Dune, by Frank Herbert. Oh come on. Who pretends they read this book? I was unaware that having a movie and a miniseries made from a book turns it from a cult classic into a Must Have Read (So Chillax With These Cliff Notes). Anyway, I’ve read it. I even reread it a couple of times. But sometime ago I lost interest in the whole Dune thing. Still, guess what my fave part of the book is: The footnotes, chapter quotes, and appendices just like in a “real” scholarly work only they refer to things inside the novel (as in, they all refer to not real things). I just love that kind of shit. But Jack Vance does them better.
3 Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. I have never read this and never will. Pretentious arse-wash.
4. Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. I read this in high school at the behest of a guy friend I ate lunch with. It was okay, but already seemed dated (one of the few female figures, as I recall, was the wife of some official, who the hero promptly won over — he was looking to get funding or something yawn INO — because he gave her some kind of high-tech gizmo that gave instant pretty dresses at the press of a button.
5. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. This book was a big disappointment to me. I couldn’t finish it. It started off delightfully, with fully drawn interesting characters and a unique situation. But it bogged down in the middle like nothing I’ve read. This was some serious bog time. Everyone in the book just seemed to stop in their tracks and go off into reminiscing mode. I can’t even say this was a big block of exposition or speechifying or any of the other things that ruin a book. I can’t say what it was actually, that slowed the story down so much that it felt like time really was slowing down. There were just too many scenes of fairies and their captive humans dancing dancing dancing.
6. 1984, by George Orwell. Nope, not read it. I mean to though. I did flip through a copy and found a scene where Winston has found a book with blank pages, and decided to start writing a diary. His first effort is so much like the first blog post of someone who has gotten into blogs for the first time that I laughed and laughed.
7. First and Last Men and Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon. This is very early scifi and is weird up the wazoo. I’ve read First and Last Men, can’t recall if I read Star Maker. You can find them if you go to Gutenberg e-text, but be prepared, because those old guys had really strange hobbies.
8. The Long Tomorrow, by Leigh Brackett. I’ve never even heard of this thing. I’ve read some other Leigh Brackett stuff. In any case, this would not be some of it, because in general I avoided and still avoid post-Apocalyptic novels. I just can’t. No one who is not my age or older remembers what it was like living under the constant fear that one or the other of the principals involved in the Cold War would eat a piece of bad fish, or break up with their girlfriend, or something, and then PHOOM it’s all over. Also maybe back then it was New and Now but eleventy-umpteen years and novels with interchangeable plots involving wandering across a post-nuke landscape and encountering religious crazies (always Christian or Christian-derived cults) and my phaser is set to “avoid as thou wouldst a band of ravenous radioactive mutants.”
9. Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delaney. Nnnoooo thanks. I’ve read a couple of Delaney novels (Babel-17 and Tales of Nevèrÿon) but was never attracted to his more arcane stuff.
10. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace. I’ll pass, thanks. For one thing, I was traumatized by reading one of his short stories about a couple who accidentally boil their baby. As for this one, reading the plot is enough to keep me away. I have no patience with the constantly reiterated obsession Americans have with Daddy and celebrity.
Anyway, there you are. Some of them I’ve read, some I haven’t but plan to, some I haven’t and never will.