Monday, April 04, 2011

Revisiting A thru' Z

Just stumbled across this old book meme on the blog and I thought I'd give it a second go. First time round was nearly three years ago, and I have caught the reading bug again in recent years.

A recap of rules for those too bastard lazy to click on the above link:

"A book meme - I guess - that I shamelessly nicked from Normski over at Normblog. It "involves going through the alphabet and picking, for each letter, a novelist and one of his or her novels that you've read.""

Take a Q:

  • Archer, Jeffrey - First Among Equals
  • Bainbridge, Beryl - Young Adolf
  • Calvino, Italo - The Path to the Spiders' Nest
  • Doctorow, E.L. - World's Fair
  • Ellroy, James - L.A. Confidential
  • Fante, John - Ask The Dust
  • Gibbon, Lewis Grassic - Spartacus
  • Hird, Laura - Born Free
  • Irving, John - Trying to Save Piggy Sneed
  • Jenkins, Robin - The Thistle and the Grail
  • Kelman, James - The Busconductor Hines
  • Litt, Toby - Beatniks
  • McCabe, Brian - The Other McCoy
  • Nobbs, David - Second From Last in the Sack Race
  • Owens, Agnes - Gentlemen of the West
  • Pennac, Daniel - The Fairy Gunmother
  • Q - passed (again)
  • Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet On The Western Front
  • Spence, Alan - The Magic Flute
  • Tey, Josephine - The Daughter of TIme
  • Unsworth, Barry - Sugar and Rum
  • Vonnegut, Kurt - Hocus Pocus
  • Williams, Gordon M - From Scenes Like These
  • X - passed (again)
  • Yurick, Sol - The Warriors
  • Z - pass
  • Once again I fail with the letters Q and X. There are about 20 Quinns' listed over at Fantastic Fiction. I'll just have to do a smash and grab. And the only way I'll be able to fill out the X if and when I do the meme for the third time - pencilled in for sometime in 2014 - is if I develop a taste for Chinese literature between now and then. The Z is sorted. Just have to hunt down a copy of The Islanders.

    I'd love to tag someone with this meme but everyone's buggered off to Facebook or have the attention span of a tweet. So it goes.


    stuart said...

    "Tweet." "So it goes." Do I win anything for noticing the sophisticated use of inter-textuality in this post?!

    Darren said...

    You're making me sound smarter than I actually am.

    More please!

    robert said...

    Amis, Martin - 'Money'
    Burgess, Anthony - 'Enderby'
    Clarke, Susanna - 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell'
    Dickens, Charles - 'Our Mutual Friend'
    Erickson, Steve - 'Days Between Stations'
    Fleming, Ian - 'Goldfinger'
    Gray, Alasdair - 'Poor Things'
    Home, Stewart - 'Red London'
    Isa, Nyone - 'Marking This?'
    Joe, King - 'Embarrassing Omission'
    Kelman, James - 'A Disaffection'
    Lehane, Dennis - 'A Drink Before the War'
    McCaughrean, Geraldine - The Maypole
    Nesbit, Edith - 'The Railway Children'
    O'Flynn, Catherine - What was lost
    Paretsky, Sara - (but I can't recall which one!)
    Quite, Impossible - 'At This Stage of My life'
    Rankin, Ian - 'Black and Blue'
    Stuart, Alexander - 'The War Zone'
    Tolstoy, L - 'Wad and Peeps'
    Ur Having - 'A Laugh'
    Vexed, I Am - 'Very'
    Waters, Sarah - 'Fingersmith'
    X, Marks - 'The Spot'
    Yoshimoto, Banana - 'Kitchen' (Well, no. But I did buy it for someone; honest!)
    Zee Zee, Top - 'Clean Shaven'

    Shine on - EIGHT failures.
    Congrats to the Ingrate.

    stuart said...

    So it wasn't a conscious reference to "So it goes" and "Po-to-weet" from Kurt Vonnegut? If not, your subconscious must be smarter than you are!

    stuart said...

    Can't do better than Bobby if you don't count the cheats....

    Ambrose, David: The Man Who Turned Into Himself
    Byatt, AS: The Children’s Book
    Clarke, Susanna: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
    Dickens, Charles: Bleak House
    Eliot, George: The Lifted Veil
    Fitzgerald, F Scott: The Great Gatsby
    Greene, Graham: A Burnt Out Case
    Highsmith, Patricia: This Sweet Sickness
    Irving, John: The World According To Garp
    James, William: The Varieties of Religious Experience (A cheat: not a novel, and I never finished it)
    Kafka, Franz: The Castle
    Le Guin, Ursula: The Word For World Is Forest
    Marquez, Gabriel Garcia: One Hundred Years Of Solitude
    Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita (a cheat, never finished it)
    Oates, Joyce Carol: On Boxing (bit of a cheat, not a novel)
    Poe, Edgar Allen: Collected Works
    Rossetti, Christina: Poems (a few of them anyway)
    Stoker, Bram: Dracula
    Tolkien, JRR: Tree and Leaf
    Vonnegut, Kurt: Player Piano
    Wilson, Robert Anton: The Illuminatus Trilogy

    Darren said...


    the "so it goes" was half conscious but when I hear so it goes I always think of Nick Lowe before I think of Vonnegut.

    "Po-to-weet"? Nah, I'm a numpty. Didn't get the reference but in my defence it's been years since I read Vonnegut.

    Darren said...


    a first glance I thought 'what a well read young man', and then I had a closer look at your list. ;-)

    Tried to read Money years ago but - just like London Fields - I couldn't finish it. I just don't like Amis Junior.

    Read the Kelman novel 20 years ago. Went through a phase in my late teens of reading a lot of Kelman, and I haven't read him since. I think it may be worthwhile having a reread if and when I can pick some of his books up cheap.

    Is Red London any good? Read his Pure Mania a long time ago, and I can't remember if I liked it or not.

    Read the Lehane book but the more I read Pelecanos the more I'm not bothered about Lehane. I know that's both a daft and unfair comparison. I definitely want to read Lehane's historical novel which touches upon the Boston Police strike. (The name of it escapes me right now.)

    And your list has reminded me that I do have to get round to reading Lanark one day . . . just not right now.

    Darren said...


    I'm surprised you didn't put a Vidal novel for V. I thought he'd be right up your street. (I'm writing this having never read any Vidal novels myself, and basing that assumption purely on a few his appearances on Parkinson 20 years ago ;-)

    I've read one Marquez novel and I remember absolutely nothing about it . . . not even the title.

    And I've been thinking about getting back into Graham Greene, but I know that it will probably be re-reads. (Brighton Rock, The Comedians, etc etc).

    robert said...

    After posting my list I thought about ‘Money’ and how I had absolutely no recollection of it at all! Even watching the recentish BBC version hadn’t jogged my ailing memory. Never got round to ‘London Fields’ or any other of his, but I did see him at Euston station a few years ago. I was way too cool to let on I knew who he was… (plus I might have been mistaken!)
    I also read Kelman’s ‘Not, not while the giro’, but that’s all, so not the Booker one. I’m sure he’s well worth a re- (and new) read.
    I’ve been meaning to read Georgey P for ages now, and haven’t read a Lehane for ditto. But I did get the historical one – ‘The Given Day’ – so I’ll have a read soonish (well, before my death in 2112).
    ‘Red London’ – oh dear, too long ago to remember sorry! I’m sure I liked it because I did read some more of his, (including ‘Cunt’, which had a ‘sticker’ for the title instead of a cover-printed one).

    Darren said...

    All I seem to remember of both London Fields and Money is Amis's sneering tone. Maybe I'm doing him a disservice and should try to finish at least one of them. I did read the Rachel Papers years before all I can remember of that are images from the rather shit film adaptation.

    I've actually read a fair bit of Kelman. At least three of his novels and four of his short story collections but for some reason I never fancied his book that won the Booker, which is rather unfortunate 'cos that's the only Kelman novel that turns up in secondhand bookshops in New York.

    Stewart Home and his rather risque book titles. I think I bought a second hand copy of his novel, Blow Job, one time. Didn't finish it after I kept getting funny looks from people when I was reading it on the Northern Line.

    stuart said...

    Hi Darren,
    "Po-to-weet" is the ingenius, terrible, tragic, wonderful ending to "Slaughterhouse Five". After the devastation of Dresden, the silence. Then, a single bird: po-to-weet?

    No, never read any Vidal. In fact, don't know a single thing about him. Must remedy that one day!

    Amis is an odd one isn't he? I read Money ages ago, and The Information, and I think some others but can't remember. I liked it at the time, then grew to hate him. But then I saw an interview with him recently and, quite against my wishes, warmed to him.

    Kelman is a genius. I keep meaning to read more, but I just can't resist re-reading A Disaffection and How Late It Was, How Late. Both wonderful.

    By the way, book fans, did you see Ken MacLeod's review of that new sci-fi/fantasy book? Love the sound of that, though I'm guessing more up my and Rob's street than yours Darren.

    All the best

    Darren said...

    Thanks for the explanation about "Po-to-weet". I'm guessing it's about ten years since I read that book, so of course I've forgotten all about the ending.

    The film adaptation is on Netflix Instant, so I should check it out.

    I really enjoyed A Disaffection when I read it all those years ago, and I get the feeling that I would get a lot more out of it now. Maybe I should try the Booker winner if you're recommending it but, up until now, it's never really appealed.

    I'll check out MacLeod's review but you're probably right about me and sci-fi.

    stuart said...

    'How Late' is great if grim. If Disaffection is about 'middle class' alienation/oppression, then 'How Late' is about working/under class oppression. Been ages since I read either, but in my mind they're a bit Mike Leigh, aren't they?